Message from the Rector
Dear Colleagues and Students,
I warmly welcome all the co-workers and students of the University.
As Óbuda University’s new rector effective from 15 July, 2019 let me welcome you and draw up the goals which I wish to achieve with your assistance and in close collaboration with all of you.
First and foremost, let me briefly introduce myself. Not because I would like to boast on my achievements, but in order to underline that my programme was not built on nice-sounding empty promises. I come from Transylvania and my finished primary and secondary schools in Hungarian in Timisoara, Romania, while my university in Romanian at the “Politechnica” University of Timisoara not only as top of my class, but as best graduate in my field of study all around Romania as well. I started my career at “Politehnica” University of Timisoara, but I landed a part-time job at the Partium Christian University, Oradea, Romania as well. Later, I started and completed my PhD at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary in 2008. I joined Óbuda University in 2012 in order to improve its metrics and since then you have been able to follow my career path more closely. I was the first person to earn a habilitation degree at Óbuda University with summa cum laude distinction. As far as leadership experience is considered, I worked as Vice-Dean for Education at the John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics between 2013 and 2018, I am responsible for the Computer Engineering BSc and MSc programmes, and I acted as the Vice-Rector for Education from 2018. I have also played an active role both in Hungary and internationally and out of my management functions I am particularly proud of the fact that I acted as the Vice Chair of the Hungarian Section of IEEE and since 2017 I have been chairing the IEEE Hungary Section.
Engineering has always been and is subject to constant changes and transformations. There is no other discipline that could bring about such enormous changes with regards to the fate of future generations and we are about the become both the witnesses and the catalysts of these transformations. I firmly believe that this aspect has attracted numerous generations to take up jobs in this field. Furthermore, the excellent academic staff at Óbuda University have been both the possessor and convinced practitioner of this knowledge ever since the foundation of the university.
The Senate have given me a task, namely to put Óbuda University on a steady path of growth which reacts to the accelerated changes of the 21st century and to do so with the future in mind. I regard this new role as a service. Rewriting the famous lines by Attila József, I might say that I will teach my people both in Hungary and around the Carpathian basin not only college, but universal university knowledge. I am of the opinion that the base and goal of such a gigantic challenge can only be the university community itself. Winning the support of this community can primarily be done by outlining the goals we need to reach together. I hope these goals I am about to detail will be to the liking of all the members of this community.
I have always held my father in high regard as he was the one, upon the request of Bishop László Tőkés (the sparkle of the Romanian revolution in 1989), who created the first Hungarian-language university in Romania, the Partium Christian University in Oradea, Romania out of nothing. We are in a better situation though, as our university has been operating for 140 years, and is the second largest technical higher educational institution in Hungary. We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of being granted university status and are also commemorating the 140th anniversary with a series of events entitled 140 years in Service of Economy and Science. We should be proud of our rich history.
Being a community is clearly more than the mere co-existence of its members, a community is supportive, strengthening and protective. I am convinced that all the members of the teaching staff, both active and retired, professor emeriti and emeritae, all the non-teaching white and blue-collar workers and all our present students and alumni are equally important members of our university. I wish to gather everybody under a common flag in order to make them feel passionate about reaching the goals of the university and I intend to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors.
I would also wish the empower all the members of the community to take an active part in working towards our goals and implement the strategy of the university. In order to succeed, the needs of the community should be taken into account and I wish to offer predictable professional pathways to everybody who is committed to playing a part in this process. I have the intention of opening up dialogues between the units and faculties of the university so as to minimise fragmentation and discuss the viability of eliminating parallel structures. I strongly agree with Hungarian poet Mihály Váci who wrote that “To desire good’s not enough: / to want what’s good’s needed! / And to want it isn’t enough, / actions, deeds are needed! / Meaning well alone won’t do! / More’s needed: - common sense! / What’s the use of cold reason?! / More’s needed: - sentiments!”
In my programme I made a commitment to put Óbuda University on a path followed by the world-renowned higher educational institutions and to turn around the trend which shows that the gap between elite universities and our institution has been widening for quite some years now. We need to bear in mind that education and science are equally important and therefore, both of them should be handled equally. A sustainable university needs to be created using both our own and external resources in which younger generations are mentored by senior colleagues and their networks of relationships and the aims set by the management should motivate all the stakeholders.
As I feel responsible for the university, I cannot disregard the fact that realising our aims without having a sound financial background is not viable. It is of utmost importance to establish a financial system that will guarantee financial security for the coming years. I am of the opinion that a fruitful cooperation needs to be established which is based on mutual trust with both the Chancellery at Óbuda University and the Ministry.
Furthermore, I also intend to do my utmost to make Hungarian students from both Hungary and abroad apply for Óbuda University as their first choice since we need to realise that due to demographic challenges the environment is becoming more and more competitive. To make it happen, dedicated work from teaching staff, scientific performance of research centres and professional marketing techniques are required. I am committed to finding solutions but do not wish to hear anything along the lines of “this is not possible” or “this is not the way we usually do it”. We all have to come to the realisation that the higher educational sector is changing extremely fast and we must come up with quick solutions in order not to fall behind.
Only by improving the quality of education and following the international trends and the Hungarian labour market predictions can we reach a leading position. I wish to incorporate feedback from our alumni into our study programmes as they are the ones who have first-hand experience on how they managed to get by at their workplaces using the knowledge they acquired at Óbuda University. I also intend to allocate more resources to our online educational portfolio and wish to show our colleagues who are engaged in high-quality research that it is worth undertaking research at our institution and that instead of looking at their day-to-day tasks as work, it should be their passion.
I would also cordially invite all our retired professors, professor emeriti and emeritae to come back and pass their knowledge on to younger colleagues and help them with their experience and networks of relationships.
Our university is a unique organisation with exceptional values but, at the same time, we have to admit that there are some weaknesses which I have also witnessed on a daily basis. I joined Óbuda University in 2012 and a couple of years later I started a project within the framework of the largest and most prestigious research grant system, the European Research Council (ERC). During the project I managed to identify numerous administrative and university-level problems which I thought had to be addressed immediately. Although it was rather challenging, I succeeded in initiating changes for the better both at the John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics and at the Physiological Controls Research Centre. I have experienced internal and external challenges both as a professor and a researcher and have always done my utmost to improve the university as a leader. I would like to continue to promote bidirectional dialogues within the university and I hold feedback from colleagues in high regard. Consequently, I am open to any feedback which might improve processes and output. Having starting with a quote by Attila József, I am concluding with another one by him: “working precisely and fine / just like stars are moving in the sky / is worth it.”
Wishing you all the best and every success in your work,
Prof. Dr. Levente Kovács
Budapest, July 15, 2019
Prof. Dr. Levente Kovács
Rector of Óbuda University