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22 December 2022


Dear students, dear colleagues, dear friends of Charles University,

I am writing to you on behalf of the whole management of Charles University to mark the end of the year and the coming of the New Year. This is a time for taking stock and reflection. The last few months have not been easy and have brought many difficult challenges and changes for society. For this reason I, together with the whole of the Rector’s Office, thank you all the more for everything you have done.

When we look back, the year 2022 brought many positive things, including a number of major awards and the realization of projects and events, of which we can all be justly proud. This year Charles University received four grants from the European Research Agency (ERC), and was also recognized in awards bestowed by the Czech Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Health and the NEURON Awards. One major, indisputable success was the achievement of botanist and ecologist Prof. Petr Pyšek, who received the main award in this year’s edition of the Czech Head awards. Other successful projects also included active participation in all five priority areas of the Exceles National Renewal Plan (NPO) programme and the procuring of further support (the 1CORE project) for the 4EU+ international university alliance, which in the year just past accepted a new member, the University of Geneva (Université de Genève). Any list of the University’s successful projects must also include the opening of new campuses that meet the latest requirements for modern tuition: the campuses of the CU 2nd Faculty of Medicine and the CU Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, and the new classroom of the University’s Faculty of Physical Education and Sport. Every one of these modernization projects represents an important advance, and sends a clear signal that, even though our institution is one that can look back on a long tradition and history, it is still able to keep step with modern times.

Our success in science and research go hand in hand with the third role of the University, and in particular the popularization of science and the University’s efforts to inform the general public of interesting and expert findings. This year we opened the unique Didaktikon science popularization centre at Kampus Hybernská. Neither can we ignore the success of student Eliška Jandová from the Faculty of Science, who not only won in the national round of the Famelab competition for the popularization of science through stand-up presentations, but only a few days ago achieved 2nd place in the prestigious international round. This year the positive image of our university was also enhanced by our athletes across a wide variety of sports, be it the University’s ice hockey team, which won the Jan Palach Cup, or the successes of our men’s football, women’s volleyball and women’s basketball teams. All of these outstanding achievements show how we are open to the society and world around us, to which the ever-increasing interest amongst students in foreign-language courses bears witness. The aspiration to be an open university served as the impulse for the creation of a podcast entitled Stop-time on the Forum radio station, which looks at current topics and features regular, fortnightly guest appearances by members of Charles University management. The last edition of the podcast this year (sorry, it is in czech language only but you can listen to Forum radio – CU podcast with host Jan Velinger), which takes a look back at 2022, has just come out.

The second half of the year was also exceptional thanks to the Czech Republic’s presidency of the Council of the European Union and the related activities undertaken by Charles University. These included, for example, the Hřeje mě pohyb (Movement Keeps Me Warm) cross-country skiing event, part of the European Week of Sport, in support for the integration of students with handicaps, students from Ukraine and other international students. The University organized a conference entitled Sustainability in an Unstable World and a series of debates entitled #ÚkolEvropa at Kampus Hybernská. In recent months we have also welcomed a number of important visitors from abroad to the University. Amongst the most prominent of these were the talk given by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in the Karolinum, a debate on the Future of Europe with the participation of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and debate involving the President of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová, and students from the University.

In this exceptional year, Charles University also had to take a position with regard to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The University management was the first in academia to strongly condemn the unprecedented aggression initiated, and still maintained, by Putin’s Russia. However, this statement would not have been possible without your trust and support. The tragedy taking place not so very far away from us is not yet over. Here, too, we were unified, and offered Ukrainian students a helping hand in the form of grants and Czech courses, and we employed Ukrainian academics. At times like these, the most important thing we can do is to show humanity and understanding and provide rapid assistance. We also did not forget about long-term assistance – through the activities of the Eastern Partnership University Cluster (EPUC) we are consolidating direct cooperation with a number of universities in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

The development of our University is an ongoing task. The entire management of the University stands side by side with faculty management, in the coming months, in addressing fundamental issues such as the real fulfilment of the University’s Strategic Plan, revision of the criteria for habilitation and professorship appointment procedures, the launch of the strategic and sustainable digitalization of the university, studies for a new, unified visual identity for the University, a concept for the implementation of microcertificates, the development of international agreements and cooperation such as the Eastern Partnership University Cluster and the 4EU+ Alliance, as well as the completion of a University-wide sustainability strategy. These are only some of the topics and challenges that lay before us in 2023 and which we shall all work towards.

However, it should also be said openly that the development of the University and the happiness of our academic community also depends on the Czech government’s stance towards the underfunding of higher education. On behalf of the University management we can promise you that in the coming year we will strongly advocate for a significant increase in state financial support.

Dear colleagues. In a written text, greetings may often not sound as heartfelt as one may like, but believe me when I say that we are sincerely grateful for all you have done in the last year. We are proud of everything that the University has achieved in that time, and it is our wish that the trust we have in each other will continue. In these times in particular, collegial relationships are important and necessary. On behalf of the entire management of the University I hope you enjoy this deserved break with your loved ones and that you start the new year full of health, optimism and positive energy. At the same time, I express on behalf of us all the wish that next year sees the end of wars all over the world. I and the management of Charles University look forward to pleasant meetings and working with all of you in the new year.

On behalf of the whole management of Charles University

prof. MUDr. Milena Králíčková, Ph.D.

Rector of Charles University

December 22, 2022, Prague

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