Address by the Chairman of the Academic Senate

Doc. Václav Štěpánek, former and current chairman of the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts, addresses the faculty public. He recaps the circumstances that accompanied the beginning of the new Senate's term of office, looks forward to the important tasks that await the Senate and invites the entire academic community to discuss them.

30 Jun 2021 Václav Štěpánek

Dear colleagues,

As you know, last year, the election of the new Academic Senate for 2021–2023 took place. It was an election worthy of the Faculty of Arts after a long time, with 41 candidates running for the Academic Staff Chamber and 35 candidates running for the Student Chamber. The new senate was due to take up its work on the first of January 2021; however, in the context of the state of emergency declared due to the coronavirus crisis, the Ministry of Education decided to extend the terms of office of the senates and academic officers whose mandate was due to expire at that time. Since they could not fully perform their duties, the mandate was extended by the period of the state of emergency. This was not a completely conceptual and systematic decision, given that after the end of the state of emergency in February, another state of emergency was declared (and the senates should therefore, according to this logic, continue to function until somewhere in the autumn months!), but even so, the term of office of the "old" senate was extended by almost five months, until February 22. The old senate was still in session on May 17, as it was necessary to approve the conversion of several doctoral specializations to programs, and just a week later, on May 24, the constituent session of the new senate was held, almost entirely devoted to the election of senate officers as well as senate committees.

A new feature of the new senate is the presence of nine student senators as opposed to the previous seven. The results of the senate officers’ election have already been published on the faculty website for you to read about, so let me just repeat that I again gained the confidence of the senators to lead the AS FF MU in the next period; Mgr. Ondřej Varaďa was elected the first vice-president of the senate and the chairman of the student chamber, while Mgr. Stanislav Bárta, Ph.D. was elected the vice-president of the senate and the chairman of the academic chamber.

The Senate started working hard immediately after its constituent meeting. On June 14, it discussed six proposals for the conversion of study programmes and the accreditation extensions; the new chairs, elected by the members of five Senate Committees, were also introduced at the meeting. Three of the chairs are from the student chamber: Mgr. Ondřej Varaďa as the chair of the Elections and Mandates Commission, Jakub Zikmund for the Legislative Commission, and Bc. Ondřej Nováček for the Conciliation Commission; the remaining two commissions are headed by doc. Dagmar Pichová (Administrative Commission) and doc. David Zbíral (Economic Commission).

I would like to inform you, dear colleagues, that all meetings of our Academic Senate are open. In the winter semester, there will be at least three Senate meetings (i.e., on October 11, November 8, and December 13) and you will be informed about any extraordinary meetings on the Senate website and in the news section of the faculty website. Any member of the academic and student community can attend the meetings of both the entire senate and the individual committees; the senate and its committees are also open to any suggestions you may have, so please feel free to contact the senate with your concerns.  

I wrote some time ago that, given its spirit of work, civility and mutual respect, the activities of the Academic Senate have recently been an example of our faculty’s cohesion. The Senate has also been able to comment on society as a whole, proving that the humanities have perhaps lost none of their critical thinking (which is naturally present in their environment and is constantly cultivated in discussions) and that they are still able to draw attention to dangerous tendencies that threaten our society and its democratic development. I hope that the Senate will continue to function in this way in the future.

The most important task facing the Senate in the coming months is to organise the election of a new dean, who is expected to assume office on April 1, 2022. It is already clear that several candidates will compete in the democratic debate for this post. However, regardless of who becomes the dean, it is essential that the new Senate be able to be both a constructive opposition to the new leadership and a supporter of its attitudes that will lead to the further development of our almae matris as well as its confident position within the entire university.

I wish you all a great summer.

Václav Štěpánek
Chairman of the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University

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