Getting to Know President Jaroslav Miller
At the beginning of August 2021, AAU welcomed Prof. Mgr. Jaroslav Miller, MA, PhD. as our new President. Prof. Miller comes to AAU from Palacky University in Olomouc, a highly research-focused institution, where he held the office of the President from 2014 to 2021. Taking over from doc. Ing. Štěpán Müller, CSc., MBA, who successfully led AAU through the pandemic, we’re looking forward to what our new president has in store for our university’s future.
Are you excited to be joining Anglo-American University?
Absolutely, I’ve always dreamed of shepherding a highly internationalized institution and AAU is exactly the right place. In my eyes, Anglo-American University is an ambitious and dynamic learning environment with a motivated and culturally diverse student body. What attracted me to work here is AAU’s ethos and mission: As a liberal university promoting the ideas of democracy and open society, the university plays an important role in defending freedom and critical thinking. That matters more today than in the past!
Are you looking forward to living and working in Prague?
During my academic and research career, I spent almost 15 years abroad, mainly in big cities like Perth in Western Australia, Oxford, Toronto, Budapest, and Munster. Although well-traveled I paradoxically still consider myself a villager or even a farmer since my roots are, and always have been, in the countryside. From this perspective, the year 2021 brings a significant change to my life in more ways than one- An example: Asa passionate and competitive cyclist, moving to Prague unavoidably involves seeking new attractive and challenging bicycle routes outside the city. All in all, I should be able to find a reasonable balance between the comfort of urban life and my personal need for splendid solitude outside the city.
What would you like to focus on at the university?
As the pandemic has affected our university heavily, we should “normalize” our academic life as soon as possible and reinforce the spirit of community which is a conditio sine qua non to our future success. Resuscitating our summer schools, study abroad programs, and student exchange are immediate goals for the upcoming academic year. In the long-term, we are planning to invest more energy and financial resources into research. We’re also aiming to get new study programs accredited and introduce the system of student internships in private companies and institutions across the Czech Republic. To paraphrase my beloved Elvis Presley “AAU is always on my mind”.
If you had an afternoon off in Prague, where would you go and what would you do?
Taking my bicycle and going either to Brdy, a hilly and half-wild landscape south of Prague, or riding around Prague and dropping in for a beer at the Únětice brewery afterward.
What is the most exciting book you have read that you would recommend to our students and why?
If I may be so bold, I believe that the best books must be those penned by myself! On a serious note, there are cohorts of great books which make any meaningful comparison foolish and impossible so here are some of my top picks. Marcel Proust’s opus magnum In Search of Lost Time may be one of the best prosaic texts ever. Generally, I love Russian and Latin American literature, and books by Marquez, Borges, Goncharov, Radischev, Rybakov, Platonov, Bulgakov, etc. occupy an honorable place in my library. However, if requested to highlight one or two titles I would probably mention Pnin, a genuine literary jewel by the Russian emigré in the United States, Vladimir Nabokov. In his novel, the author captured the inner tension and the eternal dilemma of exile in a unique way. The hero, unable to give up his national culture and identity, remains lost in a new country that has offered him a home, but mocks him for his otherness, keeping him in the role of an eternal foreigner and outsider – a ridiculous knight with a sad figure who finds himself in a world that also remains closed to him.
When considering the Czech literature, I would definitely recommend Máj (May), the epic poem by the early 19th-century poet Karel Hynek Mácha and the most classical text of all. In those decades when the Czech language was still underdeveloped and nascent, Mácha produced a literary monument towering above the landscape of Czech literature to these days. In my eyes, Máj is that highly improbable miracle that should not happen but it inexplicably happens anyway. At the age of 26, young man Karel Hynek Mácha donated us a prominent gift. The Czech language, the Czech literature, and the modern Czech nationality begin with Máj.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
As a tourist and nature-lover, I generally choose wild and deserted regions far from madding crowds. Though I have been thoroughly impressed by the Bhutanese mountains and old monasteries; the overwhelming beauty of the Swiss Engadine; the grandiosity of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Zion national parks, I still prefer my beloved Western Australia and its almost entirely uninhabited northern part called Kimberly. Geologically, it is one of the oldest regions on earth spotted with bizarre rocks, gorges, and lakes. At the same time, it is a territory with authentic aboriginal culture and with animals and flora unseen elsewhere. Wilderness at its best.
After opening an amazing Orientation, our president was able to get to know more of our lovely students, staff, and faculty but what about those who haven’t had the pleasure yet? Get to know the man behind the title at the upcoming inauguration!