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Response by President Václav Klaus on the occasion of receiving an honorary doctorate from City University

English Pages, 10. 5. 2006

Vice-Chancellor, distinguished guests, dear graduates, ladies and gentlemen

It is a great honour and a great pleasure to receive such a highly important award from your University. I wish to thank you personally, and also on behalf of Dr Stafford-Smith and of all the graduates who have received their degrees today. Let me also thank the presenters for their kind words.

An honorary doctoral degree is a high academic award. I myself take this 30th honorary degree which I am receiving as a personal award, but I also see it as recognition for the achievements of my country, the Czech Republic, which is again – after decades of communism – a free and democratic country and a country with extraordinarily good and friendly relations with the United Kingdom.

As a politician, as President of the Czech Republic and, at the same time, as a professor at the Prague School of Economics, I am more than aware of the importance of academic institutions and of the irreplaceable role of universities not only as sources of information but also of ideas, wisdom, erudition and reason. Universities are places of both an open dialogue and constructive doubts. They are a supply line of scientific research. I wish their voice would be loud enough to be heard even in the current world of intentionally misleading headline news and of quick and short e-mails and SMS messages. Their voice needs to be heard in this world of dangerously simplified reasoning, in the world of an abundance of information but of a shortage of knowledge.

I know that City University is a modern academic institution which is internationalized and committed to high-quality education. It can take advantage of its location in one of the world’s leading financial centres. It has close links with businesses and specific professions and, as such, it offers study programmes which are tailor-made to its graduates’ professional ambitions. At the same time – and more importantly in my view – its students can gain a wider socio-scientific knowledge and the capability of creative thinking. I hope that City University graduates take full advantage of this. I wish for the voice of the City University to be heard; for the University to gain prestige and recognition; for it to foster strong ties with its corporate partners and alumni, and for it to attract the best students from the world over.

Looking around this hall, it must be admitted that Dr Stafford-Smith and I are becoming graduates of City University at a later stage in our lives than most of the graduates present here today. I suspect, however, that many of you have already had full-time or part-time jobs while you were studying, which is something I, as a former diligent full-time student, can hardly imagine. For most of you this moment is promising with respect to your future professional careers and I would like to wish you the best of luck and much success.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I would like to conclude by thanking you for allowing Dr Stafford-Smith and myself to be with you today and for awarding us the honorary degrees.

I wish to express my thanks to the Chancellor of the University, to the Lord Mayor of the City of London, members of the Joint Committee of the University Council and Senate, and to all the University staff who contributed to the organization of this special graduation ceremony.

I would like to assure you that I am proud to become an honorary doctor of your University. I believe this feeling is what Dr Stafford-Smith and I have in common with all of you who have received your degrees today. We feel much appreciation and we will always enjoy coming back to the City University.

Václav Klaus, City University, Cass Business School, London, 10 May 2006


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