At the beginning of 2017, Petr Jan Pajas replaced Alan Krautstengl as interim president of Anglo-American University (AAU). Now as his term is coming to an end, let’s take a look at President Pajas’ time at AAU.
Petr, Chairman of AAU’s Board of Trustees from 2014–2016, was appointed to the position of interim president as the university sought a qualified candidate to fill this highest administrative position.
Having been involved with AAU since 1998, Petr has played a large part in shaping the university’s identity. He took part in transforming the original foundation, Anglo-American College, into a public benefit organization and recently into a registered institute, both operating as not-for-profit entities.
As AAU President he made changes to the structure of upper management, started processes leading to renewal of Czech accreditation required by the amended Act on Higher Education, and reformulated the school’s teaching and research strategies. Now as his term is coming to an end, let’s take a look at President Pajas’ time at AAU.
Were there any unexpected challenges you encountered when you became president?
Since I was serving as the chair of the AAU BoT, I was rather familiar with most of the general issues related to AAU’s position on the educational market. This included a rather good knowledge and understanding of the conditions binding AAU and CEA in an exclusive cooperation regarding US study abroad students. Moreover, I also participated during meetings with visits from WSCUC and in the final presentation before the WSCUC Commission that awarded AAU its initial accreditation according to US educational standards.
Specific for the beginning of the service was that I had to cooperate closely with the new founders, the newly composed Board of Trustees, restructure the management, and cooperate with staff, faculty and students without having many opportunities to meet these people individually. So I was sometimes surprised – both in a positive and negative way. It is a task for me, which I feel was not fully completed; this I deeply regret.
Could you tell the AAU community more information about your successor: AAU’s soon-to-be president?
The search for and appointment of the new AAU President is a task that law assigns exclusively to the Board of Trustees. The search started already in Fall 2017 and generated a set of more than 80 interested personalities from all over the world. Finally, on its May 28th session, the Board of Trustees definitively decided to appoint to this position Associate Professor Lubomír Lízal, PhD., who is a well known economist with plenty of publications and experience from leading positions in the economic institute CERGE, in the Board of the Czech National Bank and elsewhere. Recently he was appointed to membership in the Supervisory Board of the company ČEZ. I may also assure you that my successor is a highly qualified scholar with a clear vision of the future development of AAU which is close to mine.
I shall have the honor together with the chairman of the BoT to introduce to all of you my successor and hand over to him the task of the AAU presidency on August 1st, 2018.
What are two areas that AAU should focus on developing in the future?
Being able to prepare future leaders not to resign in search of solutions, but to apply all their skills to find them peacefully and in a courageous and innovative manner.
Providing solid, basic knowledge for all its students – regardless of their choice of a School or orientation within the three pillars of management in internationally oriented companies, institutions and administrations about economic rules and challenges, human relations supportive to respectful communication, negotiation, and also an understanding of the common and differentiated features of a legal environment both within common and continental law
What are your future plans after AAU?
As you can easily see, I am already far beyond the retirement age and even with limited physical conditions for excessive travelling (which I would otherwise highly prefer).
I am going to have some rest – not so much so as to lose all this wonderful energy of active working – and then I shall try to fulfill my grandfather’s and father’s obligations, as well as continue to support the development of a strong and active civil society in this and in other countries by writing and consulting. For the sake of my health, I also need some spa vacations, as all of us do.
What would you say to an AAU student who wishes to take up a leadership position, like you, later in his/her career? Any advice? Warnings? Tips?
Never say it’s impossible. Try to do what you see is important to you.
Be prepared to be defeated. Do not expect to gather only the successes of a winner.
Keep your integrity above your temptations.
Do not think that life is easy. You may be confronted with unexpected challenges. Believe in your strength and try again.
Where do you see AAU in 5 years?
AAU should remain a pillar for special studies preparing future leaders in business and human communication. AAU should be an internationally recognized learning hub where innovative ideas, ethical behavior, openminded and creative thinking, and other competences are both taught and shared with students and the general public. Also, the university should broadly cooperate with the US, UK, and other comparable universities around the world on several shared research and educational projects.
We should not be financed exclusively by income from tuition and fees, but should be making serious use of research and other cooperation-based grants available from both public and private sources internationally, as well as using our material and human capacities to provide vocational and other well-tailored training. This would allow for the needed incomes diversification for both stability, financial security, and for investments into further development in both personal and material spheres.
I wish to see, hopefully 5 years from now, a strong and cooperative community of devoted faculty and staff serving students and clients, as well as the general public, in developing skills needed to meet the challenges of this rapidly changing world.
Publication date: July 30, 2018