Fifteen important personalities who work at Masaryk University or are its alumni will receive the Brno City Prize for 2021 today from the metropolis where they live and work. Among them are two Masaryk University professors: physicist Martin Černohorský and pharmacologist Alexandra Šulcová-Kučerová. The award will also go to MU alumni – art historian and critic Jiří Hlušička and conductor and choirmaster Ivan Sedláček. Brno City Hall presents the award for enriching public life and contributing to the city’s prestige.
Martin Černohorský is a professor emeritus at the Department of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics of the Faculty of Science MU and has worked at the faculty – with short intermissions – since 1950. He was also instrumental in founding the Silesian University in Opava and served as its first rector from 1992 to 1998. He authored about a hundred publications, mainly in the field of X-ray photography, crystallography and in the area of physics education. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including František Křižík silver plaque of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, which was awarded for merit in the technical sciences and for the implementation of results of scientific research, and the Minister of Education Award for lifetime creative teaching activities. In 2013, the International Astronomical Union named a planetoid in honour of Martin Černohorský, thus acknowledging his contribution to inspiring several generations of students to pursue a career in physics and astronomy and promoting consistently high standards of education. He is the founder and leading figure of the Czech school of crystallography and X-ray diffraction and is recognised as an outstanding educator as well as an authoritative figure with a strong character and moral foundations.
Alexandra Šulcová-Kučerová has dedicated her professional life to pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine MU. From 1990 to 2011, she headed the Faculty’s Department of Pharmacology. She then became the head of the Experimental and Applied Neuropsychopharmacology research group at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) MU. The focus of her professional interest lies in the neuropsychological effects of substances contained in cannabis, as well as general research on the neurobiology of drug addictions and the effects of drugs on motor skills, emotionality and cognition. Her pedagogical contributions are also very significant. She has introduced innovative teaching and examination methods and supported the career growth of her postgraduate students, who she has always prepared to succeed on the competitive Czech and international scientific stage. In 2013, she received the Milada Paulová Award for Czech women researchers for her scientific work in the field of experimental and clinical pharmacology and toxicology. The awarding of the Brno City Prize is an expression of respect for her as a researcher who has been active in Brno all her scientific career and has contributed to the city’s prestige through her research and educational activities.
Jiří Hlušička studied art history and aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts MU in the 1950s. At the beginning of 1959, he became the head of the Moravian Museum’s picture gallery and in 1961 the Moravian Gallery in Brno was established combining the documentation and presentation of both free and applied art. Jiří Hlušička headed the institution from its foundation until his retirement in 1989, i.e. for almost 30 years. Together with Jan Rajlich, he made Brno famous as a centre of design thanks to the International Biennial of Graphic Design. Jiří Hlušička also wrote and published a large number of publications on visual artists and presented his own photographic work in books. He has made a major contribution to the development of arts and sciences in Brno and thanks to his efforts, the capital of South Moravia has been permanently inscribed on the map of cultural events of international significance.
Ivan Sedláček graduated in Czech language and history at the Faculty of Education MU and in Czech language and literature at the Faculty of Arts MU. The communist regime banned him from the study of music because of his political views, but he pursued conducting and singing in private. In 1956 he founded the Šlapanice Children’s Choir at the primary school in Šlapanice. He gradually developed it into a leading children’s and youth choir, which collaborated with contemporary composers and the Brno opera scene and changed its name to Kantiléna in 1967. Under Sedláček’s over 50-year-long direction, the group successfully represented Brno at Czech and international competitions and became a permanent choir attached to Janáček Theatre and later the Brno Philharmonic. He has won several awards and is revered as a mentor by young artists and students alike. He made a major contribution to improving the Czech choir singing and its promotion around the world, and thus fostered the good reputation of Brno and South Moravian culture.
In addition to the Brno City Prizes, two other figures associated with Masaryk University will receive the honorary citizenship of Brno: British philosopher Roger Vernon Scruton (in memoriam), who received an honorary doctorate from Masaryk University in 1998, and MU alumni and historian Milena Flodrová.
The eminent philosopher and writer Roger Vernon Scruton, who was associated with institutions such as Birkbeck College, the University of London, Boston University and the University of St. Andrews during his scholarly career, had a significant interest in Czech history, philosophy and culture and promoted them abroad. He participated in the activities of what was known as the “underground university” in communist-era Czechoslovakia. Among his students were the current MEP Alexandr Vondra, the former Rector of MU and current Prime Minister Petr Fiala, and the former Prime Minister and President of the Czech Senate Petr Pithart. The British philosopher died last year at the age of 75. In Oxford, he co-founded The Jan Hus Educational Foundation, which was then followed by its counterpart in the Czech Republic (Vzdělávací nadace Jana Husa), whose archives he presented as an extraordinary gift to the Director General of the Moravian Museum in 2012. Roger Vernon Scruton also thought of Masaryk University in his will. As part of the settlement of his estate, MU received a donation of £1,000 in January.
You can watch the award ceremony of the Brno City Prize 2021 and the awarding of the honorary citizenship of Brno live on the Brno City Hall website from 6:30 p.m. today.