On 30 September 2019, the inauguration of the 2019/2020 academic year took place at Collegium Civitas. Students took an oath, and the first lecture this academic year was given by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. Adam Bodnar.
The Rector of the University, Prof. Stanisław Mocek, gave a speech in which he spoke about the achievements and successes of Collegium Civitas, plans for the future and the challenges arising from changes in the modern world.
He also emphasized the unique character of our university: “For over two decades since Collegium Civitas was founded, we have jointly developed a university formula that would distinguish it from other universities existing at the time. This formula emerged not only from the perspective of efficient operation, but above all the value system that is close to us. It is close to the community that we have created comprising of students, pupils, lecturers, employees, seniors and children, because we are a university where several generations meet every day. Collegium Civitas is and always has been a meeting place, friendly to alterity and diversity. And that is how it will continue.”
First-year students promised to “conscientiously and persistently acquire knowledge disseminated by the faculty”. Sofiya Chepil gave a speech on behalf of the Student Union.
In the section summarizing the past year, rector’s awards were presented for scientific research. Awards from the 2018 statutory funds for science went to Dr Jacek Bieliński, Dr Katarzyna Iwińska, Dr Krzysztof Kasianiuk, Dr Barbara Markowska and Prof. Paweł Ruszkowski. We warmly congratulate their success!
Students received CivitAS statuettes, which are awards for dynamic activity to the benefit of the university, and diplomas for help in organizing and promoting the first edition of a new event called Concilium Civitas. Concilium Civitas is a citizens’ council, established by Polish social science professors working at foreign universities. It was created on the initiative of Jacek Żakowski, Department Head of Journalism and New Media at Collegium Civitas. A short speech was given by Prof. Jan Zielonka from the University of Oxford, member of both the Collegium Civitas Senate and the Concilium Civitas Initiative Group. Prof. Zielonka presented awards to the editors Barbara Hrybacz and Jacek Rakowiecki for their contributions to the organization and promotion of Concilium Civitas. The prize was also awarded to Jacek Żakowski who, unfortunately, could not be at the ceremony.
The Rector received numerous letters and congratulations with wishes for further successes and development. A letter from the Marshal of the Mazovian Voivodeship, Adam Struzik, was read from the stage. The Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski—a lecturer at our university for many years—also took the floor.
The inaugural lecture entitled “Everything to my friends, law to my enemies”. An Approach to Law in the Era of Legal Crisis was delivered by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. Adam Bodnar. In his speech, the Commissioner discussed in detail the phenomenon of so-called discriminatory legalism. The most important message of the lecture was communicated in the form of visual notes by the cartoonist Dorota Kostowska from the artistic group The Inkers.
A surprise for this year’s inauguration guests was the screening of a short film specially recorded for the 10th anniversary of the University of the Third Age at Collegium Civitas.
During the ceremony, for the first time, a special prize was awarded, known by students as the “WNUK”. The Edmund Wnuk-Lipiński Award, named after the co-founder and long-time rector of the university, will be presented as of this year to people particularly associated with Collegium Civitas. The first honorary laureate was Professor Irena Pańków, the founder of the University of the Third Age at Collegium Civitas. She has energetically devoted her time to its development while implementing the highest standards of education over the last decade.
The inauguration was honoured by the presence of ambassadors from the embassies of Ukraine, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the French Republic. We were also honoured by the presence of rectors and vice rectors from higher education establishments, representatives of Warsaw’s municipal authorities, scientific and educational institutions, including the Foundation for the Development of Education and Higher Education, IAB Polska, the Modern Poland Foundation, the Office for Personal Data Protection, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Institute for International Studies, and the ASHOKA association.
As has long been the tradition, the ARS CANTATA choir provided the ceremony with artistic entertainment.