15. 12. 2016

The delegates of the Academy Assembly of the CAS almost unanimously propsed Prof. Eva Zažímalová for appointment to the post of president of the Academy of Sciences for the period of 2017–2021. That happened on 15 December 2016 at the National House in Vinohrady at the XLIXth Session of the supreme body of the CAS. The only female candidate for the post of President Prof. Eva Zažímalová, who acquired before the election the support of 40 institutes of the CAS, was voted for by 195 delegates of 209 (93 %). The selected candidate will be proposed for the discussion of the Government of the CR, she will be subsequently appointed by the president of the republic.

After Prof. Helena Illnerová, who led the CAS in 2001–2005, Prof. Eva Zažímalová can become only the second woman at the head of the most important scientific institution in the Czech Republic, she should assume leadership in March. “I will do everything for the Academy of Sciences to be in an ever-better condition – it is not the work for one person, and so I look forward to cooperation with the members of the Academic and Scientific Councils as well as with the directors of the institutes,” Prof. Eva Zažímalová stated immediately after her election. During her four-year mandate, she wants inter alia to focus on better financing of the CAS and support of peak research in the context of Strategy AS21.

As stated by the outgoing President of the CAS Prof. Jiří Drahoš, in the person of Prof. Eva Zažímalová scientific quality blends with the respect of the academic community: “I did not doubt that she would gain a strong mandate, because her service in the Academic Council over the past four years has been successful. One of the dominant tasks, which she had in her competence, was the international evaluation of the workplaces, for which she rose to the occasion perfectly. In short, the Academy of Sciences will simply be in great hands.”

The candidature of Prof. Eva Zažímalová was also welcomed by the representatives of the political sphere – namely Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Pavel Bělobrádek or Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Kateřina Valachová, who at the Academy Assembly expressed her conviction that the president would successfully build on the work of the current leadership of the Academy of Sciences.

In the opening speech, President of the CAS Prof. Jiří Drahoš commented on the activity of the Academic Council since the last assembly session, selected significant results of research work and inter alia also introduced the first practical results of the programmes of Strategy AV21.

The President of the CAS further appreciate the fact that it was possible to promote and approve in the Parliament of the CR the pro-growth variant of the budget for research, development and innovation for 2017 with a view to years 2018 and 2019, which for the Academy of Sciences is an increase as against 2016 of its support by more than CZK 300 million for the next year, in the medium term view by more than CZK 600 million for 2019 – although it is clear that we only approach the “pre-crisis” level of financing from 2009.

The fact that it was possible to achieve a partial stabilization of the budget is according to Prof. Drahoš the credit of Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek and other members of the Government of the Czech Republic and Council for Research, Development and Innovation. Currently, the contribution of the state to the Academy of Sciences is CZK 4.5 billion (milliard) – a third of the overall expenditures. “I hope that it is possible to maintain the established trend and investments in science and education continue to be a governmental priority,” said Prof. Drahoš and valued that also the candidate for the post of president Prof. Eva Zažímalová wants to endeavour for long-term increasing of the budget of the CAS.

The President of the CAS, however, also mentioned that despite the increase of the meands for the operation of scientific organizations the expenditures for science are stagnating and currently comprise 50 % institutional means for science and research. The situation is unsatisfactory in this area: according to foreign practice the state should contribute as much as 70 %. Only in such a case is it possible to assure the quality and effectiveness of research.

As Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek stated, strengthening science and research is a governmental priority for the coming years, but some coalition partners to express contempt for its support. Although we succeeded in an increase of CZK 3.75 billion for next year, the amount could (or should) be even higher. The proposed candidate prof. Eva Zažímalová also intends to raise the institutional funding of the Academy of Sciences, who considers the ideal state to be a seventy percent share of institutional support towards leveraged finance, which can be obtained through grants (currently the state contributes 29 %).

According to Minister of Education Kateřina Valachová the financing of Czech science should also be based mainly on institutional support, not project financing fo that scientists had a long-term base and perspective for basic research. “I believe that in the case of Prof. Eva Zažímalová much can be built upon, because the Academy of Sciences is the showcase of Czech science.”    

The Academy Assembly was further attended by: Honorary President of the Academy of Sciences Prof. Rudolf Zahradník, Vice Presidenet of the Senate of the PCR Miluše Horská, advisor to the Prime Minister of the Government of the CR Alena Gajdůšková, President of the Czech Science Foundation Dr. Alice Valkárová, former President of the CSF Prof. Ivan Netuka, President of the Technological Agency of the CR Dr. Petr Očko, President of the Learned Society of the CR Dr. Zdeněk Havlas, President of the Council of Scientific Societies Doc. Lubomír Hrouda, President of the Association of Research Organizations Ing. Libor Kraus, President of the Czech Statistical Office Doc. Iva Ritschelová, Director of the National Theatre Prof. Jan Burian, representatives of the higher education institutes led by the President of the Czech Conference of Rectors Prof. Tomáš Zima and founder of the CCR Prof. Martin Černohorský, President of the Union of the Employees of Science and Research Dr. Pavel Konečný and other guests from the academic and political spheres.

Prepared by: Luděk Svoboda, Department of Academic Media
Photo: Stanislava Kyselová