Speech by Danuše Nerudová, Rector of Mendel University

Speech for the MENDELU's golden medal awarding

to Alois Liechtenstein and Constantin Kinský

" Thank you, Professor Ing. Jiří Skládanka, the chairman of the Academic Senate of Mendel University in Brno, for the floor.

Your Excellency, Magnificence, spectabiles, honorabiles, dear guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen!

Today we meet on the occasion of awarding the Golden Medals of Mendel University in Brno to two outstanding persons representing two old noble families closely connected with the history of this Alma Mater.

I am honoured to be present at this ceremony, held in the year which was so extraordinary for this university, as well as for this country and society. It is also an anniversary year for the Principality of Liechtenstein, which is the home of one of our outstanding guests. In January, Liechtenstein commemorated the 300th anniversary of its existence and it is exactly in these days when the reigning Prince Hans Adam II looks back with satisfaction at three decades of his successful reign.

Today's ceremony is one of the peaks of the 100th anniversary celebrations of this university which respectfully bears the name of Gregor Johann Mendel, the world-renowned biologist and pioneer of genetics who died exactly 135 years ago.

In three days, we will also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which ended the years of grey weatherless times and brought hope to recover freedom, democracy and plurality of opinions.  An academic community independent of political power is one of the basic pillars of the developed civil society which Václav Havel considered as the best defence against any attempt to seize power.   The task of a university is not only to educate in free discussions and to ask questions and search answers in basic research, but a university, today obviously more than any other time, must be a solid pillar of moral principles, a shield against lie, smallness, revengefulness, unscrupulous lust for profit, selfishness, populism and irrational fear of anything foreign and unknown. Under any circumstances and at any cost, the academic community must always defend truth, reason, openness and humanity. Against short-sighted plundering of landscape and  irreversible sucking of its natural resources, we should put diligence, prudence and respect for the country which we have only on a short loan from our ancestors and for the management of which we will be accounted by our descendants. That is also the reason why the curriculum at Mendel University also includes sensible care of the landscape, good management practice and sustainable use of natural resources. 

The love for the country in which we live is not a manifestation of nationalism or exaggerated patriotism which we today see at every corner. Patriotism is the sense for collective responsibility which is expressed by everyday work.  It is not a coincidence that both the noble families whose descendants and prominent representatives are the awardees today, have the word "country" in their family mottos.  The responsibility for the country and respect for the roots are well visible on the way in which they had cultivated the Moravian environment for whole centuries.

At their large estate, the Liechtenstein family created with time a unique example of composed landscape, sensitively finished with natural and architectural elements.  Among others, Mendel University today manages the Masaryk Forest in Křtiny. Its former Liechtenstein managers providently and systematically created mixed forests there which, in the time of the change of climate which we begin to face, represent an example of more resistant forest vegetations which are very rare on such a large area in the Czech Republic.

The management of the Kinský family in the Žďár region is another example of a long-term, responsible and considerate care of landscape as well as artistic monuments. For over a quarter of century, Mendel University has been cooperating with the Kinský family to provide field education and practical training for students. It is especially focused on using natural processes in forest management as much as possible. We successfully develop the cooperation started already by Dr Radoslav Jiří Kinský who was not only a graduate of Mendel University but later also a member of the Scientific Board of its Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology.

Same as the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is an essence of the respect for tradition, the Museum of New Generation in the rooms of the former Cistercian monastery in Žďár nad Sázavou, installed without any carnival cheapness so usual today, is an example of a refined presentation of the past. Both the current awardees come from the environment based on time-proven truth that solid roots are the connection between the past and future and that only healthy roots give us the possibility to reach high. Therefore, they receive our thanks today.

At the same time, we wish that our current awards were a promise of our future cooperation leading to a deliberate cultivation of this country, society and nature. So that we could instil not only into our students, the ideal of the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca who knew, already two thousand years ago, that a man would never be poor provided he lives in harmony with nature and would never be rich provided he lives in harmony with what people think:  „Si ad naturam vives, numquam eris pauper; si ad opiniones numquam dives“.

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