An autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture newly established at the University of Prešov
The foundation of the new institute, as R. Matlovič said, is also an outcome of the changes to some internal regulations at the University of Prešov, which resulted from an amendment to Law No. 131/2002 of the Statute Book about universities and also other changes and an amendment to some laws, which came into force on September 1st, 2007 and January 1st, 2008. Moreover, these changes were based on some practical needs of the university. At the press conference, which took place in his office on March 14th, 2008, the rector greatly appreciated the research and pedagogical work of the small team of the existing department of Rusyn language and culture and the considerable number of published works. It felt good to hear his words of appreciation and especially the fact that he had planned to realise the decision to found the institute no matter what, as it is one of his rights. Moreover, the fact gained even more importance when his proposal was supported by the vast majority of the 27 members of the Academic Senate of Prešov University. The rector considered this as sound appreciation of the work of internal and external researchers and pedagogical employees of the former Rusyn department and also confirmation that his decision was correct.
PhDr. Anna Plišková, Ph.D., the Head of the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture of ÚRNŠ PU was appointed to govern the newly established institute on March 1st, 2008 until the spot is filled after the selection process. She emphasised that the foundation of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture is positive information for the whole Rusyn community. The fact that the autonomous institute, required for such a long time by Rusyns, has been established instead of a department of Rusyn language and culture in Slovakia must be taken into consideration. That is why this event can also be perceived with a sense of satisfaction for the past period during which the department could not be founded for objective, and sometime subjective, reasons. At the aforementioned press briefing, A. Plišková also said: “The primary aim of the new institute is education of future teachers of Rusyn language and culture. However, as was the case with the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture, apart from this main task, the activity of the institute will be divided into five main areas: pedagogical, research, publishing, documentation and working with language as such. The activity of the new institute, just like the activity of the former department, should correspond with its name. The new institute will be the only one of its kind in Slovakia and, thus, will become the highest academic institution for standard Rusyn language. Therefore, it will continue to be responsible for the development of Rusyn language, proposing and confirming orthographic changes, examining and improving its level in the individual functional spheres. A linguistic committee, which will be a part of the institute will be in charge of maintaining and further developing language culture and will serve as an advisory body for the issues of standard Rusyn.“
Apart from the language as such, the institute also intends to focus on other life spheres of Ruyns. It will pay closer attention to issues of Rusyn literature, art, theatre, history and cultural-national activities of the Rusyn minority, which have so far played – for objective reasons, especially due to a lack of finances for employing more full-time colleagues – a secondary role. We hope that, with the support of the new leadership of Prešov University, the institute’s employees will manage to start fulfilling this goal by the end of 2008. It must be emphasised that there is no other institution in Slovakia, which would realise academic and research activities in the area of Rusyns to such an extent. If the institute managed to develop these activities as much as is planned by its internal employees, PhDr. Anna Plišková, Ph.D., PhDr. Kvetoslava Koporová and Mgr. Alena Blichová with the help of its external employees – Doc. PhDr. Vasiľ Jabur, CSc. and PhDr. Stanislav Konečný, CSc., as well as the university colleagues Prof. PhDr. Jozef Sipko, Ph.D., Doc. PhDr. Ľuba Sičáková, CSc., Doc. PhDr. Andrej Antoňák, CSc. and Doc. PhDr. Valerij Kapko, CSc. and others, it would be very beneficial not only for the curriculum of the Rusyn language, but also for the institution as such, which would, in this way, form a clear profile of its activities. It will also be beneficial for the university, which, through the support of the institute’s intentions, would, as the only one in Slovakia, create suitable conditions for the study and broad-field research of the Rusyn minority, and also development of Rusyn studies. After all, the foundations of these activities at Prešov University have been laid since 1998. The materials published by the employees of the former Rusyn department, as well as quoting their works in home and foreign literature, their participation in homeland and foreign forums, projects, and so on, further backs it up.
Finally, we would like to thank all those who helped to build the foundations of Rusyn studies at Prešov University, with realisation of its existing intentions regarding its development, those who participated in realisation of the study programme, but also other projects of the Rusyn department. We hope that the new institute will meet with the support of its existing colleagues, as well as the new leadership of the University of Prešov, and also the support of state institutions, especially the Slovak Ministry of Education.