Josef Jarab

Professor Josef Jarab became a good friend of UNK, when the Office of International Education partnered with him in a study abroad program that has lasted over 25 years. He and his wife visited UNK and participated in the James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs.

In 1989, Jarab had become one of the leaders of the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Czechoslovakia. In 1994, he recounted a story about speaking to a crowd of over 300,000 people marching for freedom. As he spoke, he said he finally understood how despots become charged and lose their way when confronted with such a large crowd hanging on to every word being said.

Another story is one he told about his first encounter with the Russian Commandant in Olomouc shortly after becoming Rector. The Commandant sent some soldiers to his office and commanded him to come with them to the Commandant’s office. He told them that if the Commandant wanted to speak to him, he should first ask and not command and he would make time to meet with him. As soon as the soldiers left, he was sure he would be disappeared, jailed or something. Shortly after what seemed an eternity to him, the soldiers returned and requested that he meet with the Commandant. Jarab knew at that time that Czechoslovakia has won the revolution.

Here is more of Professor Jarab’s history -In 1989, Josef Jarab was a visiting professor at Harvard University and in 1990 he was appointed full professor of English and American literature at the Palacký University in Olomouc . From January 19, 1990 to January 31, 1997, he was also rector of Palacký University . During his time as rector, he awarded Václav Havel an honorary doctorate in philosophy.

It was his first honorary doctorate from a university in Czechoslovakia. In 1994, he was one of the founding members of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic and from 1997 to 1999 he was rector of the Central European University .

From 1996 to 1998, he was also a senator of the Parliament of the Czech Republic for the Olomouc district, and from November 19, 2000 to November 19, 2006, he was a senator for the Opava district. In March 2008, the PČR Chamber of Deputies elected him a member of the Council of Czech Television . He resigned from the position at the beginning of March 2009 because he decided to lecture for several months at the University of the US state of Oregon . On September 27, 2017 , he received the Silver Memorial Medal of the Senate from the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic , Milan Štěch.
Editor’s Notes

During the early days of the war in Ukraine, many refuges ended up in the Czech Republic and in Kearney’s Sister City due to the promise of safe housing and jobs. Many, therefore, planned to make this their new home-all they would need is to learn a new language. Out of conversations with our Sister City, Jerry Fox discovered that one of their great needs was for language text books to help acclimate their new visitors-to-become-residents and he established a fund at Kearney Area Community Foundation to purchase and send the needed texts.

Categories: Education, Literature, Oration