Jiří Holenda, the First Rector of the UWB, Has Passed Away
On Monday 28 August, doc. RNDr. Jiří Holenda, CSc., the last rector of the former University of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and the first rector of the new University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, passed away at the age of 90. He led the university until 28 February 1998.
Jiří Holenda graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in Prague in 1959. He taught mathematics and physics in Sušice and Kašperské Hory. In 1961, he joined the Department of Mathematics at the University of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and in 1990 became its rector. Already in 1989, he became part of the team of academics who, with support of the students, started promoting the idea of merging Pilsen’s University of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with the Faculty of Education and thus establishing the University of West Bohemia. The merger took place in September 1991. Jiří Holenda was entrusted with the leadership of the university and on 1 March 1992 formally became rector.
“Jiří Holenda’s name will be forever inscribed in a place of honour in the University of West Bohemia’s history. Together with his team, he was able to join together two faculties of different backgrounds and history, and laid the foundations for a multidisciplinary university. Without his vision, courage and diligence, the road could have been much more difficult. We will always be grateful for everything that he did for our university. I myself had the honour of working alongside Jiří Holenda at the Department of Mathematics for many years. I remember him as an extremely energetic person who was always ready to help and actively contribute to solving problems. I loved listening to his stories from the time of the founding of our university. For me, he was proof that if you follow your vision with honesty and full commitment, you will succeed. On behalf of the entire University of West Bohemia, I would like to express sincere condolences to his family and all his loved ones,” said Miroslav Lávička, Rector of the UWB.
From 1952, Jiří Holenda was a member of the Czech Union of Mathematicians and Physicists and was awarded its Bernard Bolzano Honorary Medal and the title of Honorary Member. In 1998, he received the doctor honoris causa degree from London’s Brunel University; he was the chairman of the Committee for the Evaluation of Research Projects at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and for ten years worked in the expert team of the European University Association.
He was also a representative of the city of Pilsen and in 1998 was awarded the Historical Seal by the city council for his contribution to Pilsen’s higher education. In 2016, the Governor inducted him into the Hall of Fame of the Pilsen Region.
With Jiří Holenda’s passing, the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen is losing its second rector emeritus this year. In May, the academic community and the public bid farewell to his successor, Professor Zdeněk Vostracký.
The memorial service for Jiří Holenda will take place at the St Martin and Procopius Church in Plzeň – Lobzy on Thursday 14 September at 11 a.m.
| Šárka Stará
29. 08. 2023