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2015 at Masaryk University in a nutshell

How was the life at Masaryk University in 2015? Discoveries, prestigious grants and many more.

In 2015 Masaryk University gained a number of scholarly achievements ranging from the discovery of a new blood disease to the discovery of a principle that governs the formation of breast and ovary cancer. At the same time, its researchers were awarded two prestigious ERC grants, with David Kosař being the first law researcher in the Czech Republic to be awarded this grant. Moreover, Masaryk University student Hana Sedláčková won the Undergraduate Awards competition often referred to as the ‘junior Nobel Prize’.

Mikuláš Bek, the Rector of Masaryk University, began his second term in office. Under his leadership, the university approved a new strategic plan which sets the course for the next five years. One of the goals for the coming years is to lower the student–faculty ratio. Also, the last big EU-funded projects that enabled development of university infrastructure are coming to an end, namely CEITEC and CARLA, a project of the Faculty of Arts.

The new year should bring a long-awaited amendment to the Higher Education Act. While the amended act is a result of many compromises, it will bring about significant changes, especially as regards the accreditation of study fields. You can find more information about the impact of the amendment in our series of articles about the strategic plan.

A summary of the individual events is given in the following overview.

The Faculty of Law opened a new library
The library at the Faculty of Law was renovated and rebuilt, gaining more than 500 m² in the process thanks to the addition of a basement space that used to be a gym. The renovation and new equipment cost approximately 64.4 million crowns.

Students designed a simpler tax return form
A group of students at the Division of Information and Library Studies and their teacher Adam Hazdra decided to do something that might seem like running against a brick wall. They redesigned the tax return form in order to make it more user-friendly. And they are already working with the authorities on its implementation into practice.

Mikuláš Bek was re-elected as Rector
Rector Mikuláš Bek won more than 50% of votes of MU Academic Senate members in the April elections and in September he began his second four-year term in office. You can read about his plans for the future development of Masaryk University in the article about the new MU Strategic Plan.

New cyberattack training centre opened at the Faculty of Informatics

A physical as well as virtual space that allows experts to simulate the most serious cyberattacks and practice defence against them opened at the MU Faculty of Informatics and Institute of Computer Science. The ‘Cyber Polygon’ makes it possible to create a simulated computer network in a safe closed environment where attacks can be examined and tested without any threat to the actual external infrastructure.

MU was voted the company of the year for its approach to the deaf people

Masaryk University was voted the company of the year in the 7th annual competition organized by Tichý svět, a benevolent society helping the deaf. The university secured this victory by its positive and helpful approach to its deaf employees, who entered MU into the competition. In 2014 Masaryk University employed several dozen sign language users, primarily in Teiresiás, a support centre for students with special needs, which ensures inclusive education at the university.

Jiri Zlatuska.

Jiří Zlatuška was elected the Dean of the Faculty of Informatics
Jiří Zlatuška, former MU Rector and Member of Parliament (ANO), was elected the Dean of the Faculty of Informatics in June after the then-current Dean, Michal Kozubek, had failed to win the previous round as the only candidate. Zlatuška will serve as the faculty’s Dean until August 2019. He was elected to the office by the Academic Senate of the faculty at the end of June. Find out more about his plans in an interview: Education must be meaningful for practice.

First students graduated from the children’s university
The first ever graduation ceremony for graduates of Masaryk jUniversity took place in May at the University Cinema Scala. About 140 children aged between 9 and 14 received diplomas for successfully graduating from the children’s university, wrapping up the first year of the project. Vice-Rector Ivan Malý congratulated all graduates and said he hoped their enthusiasm for science and learning will grow with them.

Muni commemorated the legacy of the father of genetics
July’s audiovisual show at the courtyard of St. Thomas Abbey marked the end of celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Gregor Johann Mendel’s ideas on the cross-breeding of plants. Many years after the death of this friar from Brno, these ideas became the foundation of modern genetics and are no less valid today than they were in his time. The final evening event, the Legacy of Mendel, was organised by the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University.

Doctors discovered a new blood disease
In cooperation with their international colleagues, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine described a new type of blood disease. The disease is caused by a hereditary mutation of a single gene. The discovery was prompted by an unusual case of a patient treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, who continued to show an unexplainably low blood platelet count even after receiving treatment. The researchers confirmed that it was caused by the mutation of a single gene, which also significantly increases the risk of leukaemia in those who are affected by it. The new discovery was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Genetics.

Scientists discovered how breast and ovary cancer develops
The lab of Lumír Krejčí, who works at the Masaryk University and at the ICRC research centre, brought the scientific community much closer to understanding the principles of how certain types of breast and ovary cancer develop. The discovery could mean a significant progress for patient treatment and is so significant that it was announced yesterday by Cell, which is one of the most prestigious scientific journals.

Faculty of Arts finished a large-scale renovation and construction project
The autumn semester at the Faculty of Arts started in completely new classrooms, marking the end of three years of demolition, construction and moving. The renovated A and B1 buildings as well as a completely new B2 building are now open to students and teachers. The Faculty of Arts gained modern equipment for teaching and research and premises offering sufficient space – they replaced old facilities, which were no longer suitable after years of use.

International students in the Czech Republic are most satisfied at MU
Each year, the StudyPortals organization issues certificates of satisfaction with studies at European universities based on the evaluations of thousands of students participating in a short-term study visit abroad. In the Czech Republic, Masaryk University took the first place this year followed by Czech Technical University in Prague and the University of Economics, Prague. Masaryk University thus repeated its success from two years ago. The Czech Republic as a whole ranked 9th out of the 18 rated countries.

Masaryk University established a humanitarian grant fund
So far, eight student projects providing aid in humanitarian disasters have received support from the new grant program of Masaryk University. Almost 40,000 crowns were distributed among students in the first project evaluation round. Among the recipients were students who provided help during the refugee crisis as well as students who worked on a volunteer mission in Ghana.

Muni beat VUT in an ice-hockey match for the 4th time in a row
The players of Masaryk University scored a fourth successive victory against Brno University of Technology in the Ice Hockey Battle of Universities. The blue-uniformed team beat VUT 5:2 in front of a record-breaking number of spectators, which reached 7,400.

Grandson of Auschwitz top executioner gave a talk at Scala on 17 November
Two very different ways of personal struggle with the holocaust met at the University Cinema Scala, as it hosted a debate between a descendant of the victims and a descendant of the perpetrators. Both of them warned against radicalisation of opinions with regard to Muslims. The focus of the ‘Freedom Lecture’ was on humanity vs barbarity. The two unusual guests were invited this year to commemorate 17 November, the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day: Rainer Höss, a grandson of the Auschwitz death camp commandant, and Tal Bashan, an Israeli journalist and daughter of the author Ruth Bondy, who survived internment in the Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen concentration and extermination camps.

MU experts received two ERC grants
Two researchers from Masaryk University were awarded the prestigious ERC grants in 2015. Richard Štefl works at Ceitec, where he will focus on the research of genomic dark matter, while David Kosař from the Faculty of Law will use the grant to compare how judicial self-government works in individual European countries.

A student won a ‘junior Nobel Prize’
Hana Sedláčková, a student of the Faculty of Science, won the Life Sciences category of The Undergraduate Awards competition often referred to as the ‘junior Nobel Prize’. The competition is designed for students who are working on their bachelor's thesis or whose thesis recently passed defence.