RUŽOMBEROK (October 14, 2009) - The Catholic University in Ružomberok awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Cause to Professor Michael Novak, a philosopher and politologist for merits in development and spreading of Christian ideals are of international importance and response. The title of Doctor Honoris Causa was conferred upon him during the Ceremonial Assembly of Academic Community and the encounter of the Scientific Board at the Rectors’ hall on the 14th of October 2009. Professor Tadeusz Zasępa, Rector of the CU, stated that Professor Novak belongs to recognized authority in the world with a strong bearing on Slovakia which his ancestors come from. “His deeds in favour of our country and university prove that.”
As he also mentioned, the CU regards and apprehends with an interest personalities who spread christian ideals in the society. “There was a period which is fortunately over. We could not invite and show such important perosnalities to Slovakia.” We are looking forward to together with Michael Novak that he came here today and we are honoured.”
Professor Novak in his speech to the Academic Assembly mentioned the story of expatriation of his ancestors from Slovakia to the USA. “ It was for me a great gift to be born, as it were, between two cultures, to learn from both the Slovak experience and the American experience. Both have rich cultures and traditions of priceless value. Besides, they are quite compatible. Slovaks found it fairly easy to adapt to America. The Americans I know have found it easy to feel at home in Slovakia, to delight in the beauty of the Tatras, and to get a sense for daily life (and above all, the weddings) in the villages which are, still today, the great strength of Slovak culture and honor,“ he mentioned. In his won words, the Honorary Title is an important award for him even due to the fact that he feels connections with Slovaks and Slovakia. “ My grandparents did not attend universities. My parents didn’t either. But all of my brothers and sisters have, and all of our children. Thank you very much for this award . I will cherish it very much.“
Novak was born in 1933 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to a Slovak American family. Michael Novak received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace) in 1994, and delivered the Templeton address in Westminster Abbey. He has also received the Boyer Award in 1999; with Milton Friedman and Vaclav Klaus the International Prize by the Institution for World Capitalism; the Antony Fisher Prize for The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism presented by Margaret Thatcher; the Weber Award for contributions to Catholic Social Thought in Essen, Germany; the Cezanne Medal from the City of Provence, and the Catholic Culture Medal of Bassano del Grappa in Italy; the highest civilian award from the Slovak Republic in 1996- Order of the 2nd Class White Double Cross; the Masaryk Medal, presented by Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, in 2000; and in December 2001, the Gold Medal of The Pennsylvania Society, Mr. Novak was appointed and served as: Ambassador of the U.S. Delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, 1981-1982; head of the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the monitor of the Helsinki Accords), 1986; with Senate approval, member of the Board for International Broadcasting (the private corporation that governs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), 1984-1994; member of the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice, 1985. He has served the United States during both Democratic and Republican administrations.
M. Novak in his books and lectures has analyzed important and moving problems of our times. He mostly deals with matters of democracy and its relation with economics, ethics, religion and the Church. He has been an influential person for his opinions and attitudes. Summer institutes The Slovak Seminar on the Free Society led by Michael Novak represent a significant step. The scope of seminars was to understand the three systems of a free society—political, economic and moral-cultural—in the social thought of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, The Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville and others. Several seminars took place in Bratislava and Spišská Kapitula. Novak’s writings have been translated into many languages. His book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism was published underground in Poland in 1984 and it is regarded as a book which has changed the world. His essays and reviews have been published in many journals, he founded or edited journals (This World, Crisis, First Things).
The origin and development of the Ladislav Hanus Fellowship stemmed and developed from the annual Slovak Summer Seminars on the Free Society organized by Michael Novak. “We believe that conferring of the Honorary Title Doctor Honoris Causa evaluates the life and works of Professor Novak and it will also bring new forms of co-operation between th university and institutions where he works and it opens door for emplyees, students in the spheres of possibilities of professional and educational development in Slovakia and the USA,“ rector said.
Translation by Albert Kulla