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The Institute or Rusyn Language and Culture of Prešov University Has its First Head

An autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture newly established at the University of Prešov

“Our own identity means a lot for us”,...



Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum 2013

International Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture

Prešov University, Slovakia

June 9 - 30, 2013







The Institute or Rusyn Language and Culture of Prešov University Has its First Head


In the Narodnŷ novynky newspaper Volume 9 – 12 / 2008, an article was published (Na Prjašivskij univerziti vznyknuv Inštitut rusyňskoho jazŷka i kulturŷ, p. 2) saying that, at the meeting that took place on February 12th, 2008, the Academic Senate of Prešov University (PU), as the highest self-governing body of this institution, discussed and accepted several propositions for innovation of the internal regulations and organisational changes at PU, which had been submitted by the rector Prof. RNDr. René Matlovič, PhD. Among all the changes having been approved by the Academic Senate of PU, we find the most important the organisation changes, as a result of which, the Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies of Prešov University (IRNMS PU) was transformed into two independent entities. One of them is the Research Centre of PU and the other the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture PU (IRLC PU), which was modelled on the former Department of Rusyn Language and Culture IRNMS PU. From March 1st, 2008 until the selection process for the position of the Head of the new institute took place, Anna Plišková, the former Head of the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture of IRNMS PU, was empowered to lead the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture of PU.

The announced selection process for the position of the Head of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture of PU, was carried out by Prešov University on June 11th, 2008. Based on the results of the selection, on June 12th, 2008, the rector of PU appointed PhDr. Anna Plišková, Ph.D. to the position of the Head of the Institute.


July 9th, 2008




An autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture newly established at the University of Prešov


• PhDr. Anna Plišková, Ph. D. in charge of governing the newly established Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture, University of Prešov

On March 1st, 2008, an autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture (Ústav rusínskeho jazyka a kultúry – ÚRJK PU) was established at the University of Prešov, which was a significant event for Rusyns. This meant fulfilling one of the aims set by Rusyn activists at the beginning of the Rusyn revival process in Slovakia after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 – to establish an autonomous Department of Rusyn Language and Culture. And now it finally happened, and even better than hoped for, since, at present, institutes are of higher status than departments in the academic hierarchy.

But until this was achieved, a turbulent journey had to be undertaken. A lot could be said about it, as we (the late Vasiľ Turok-Heteš as the then Chairman of the Rusyn Revival and the World Congress of Rusyns and myself, as the Secretary in both organisations) also take credit for the present success. As the first step, in 1993, we established the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture at the Rusyn Revival in Prešov. At the same time, we requested the foundation of an autonomous department, or at least a sub-department, of Rusyn language and culture at one of the faculties of the then University of P. J. Šafárik in Prešov. However, the old guard did everything they could not to let it happen although we managed to get 1.5 million crowns to equip the future department of Rusyn language and culture and we found rooms which we furnished and prepared... But in the end, everything was in vain, because the university claimed these possessions and Rusyns, again, were left with nothing... That is why we were really enthusiastic about an “alternative“ solution offered by the then university rector Prof. PhDr. Karol Feč, CSc. In 1998, he established the Institute of Minority Studies and Foreign Languages (Ústav národnostných štúdií a cudzích jazykov – ÚNŠCJ) at the new University of Prešov with a central position of the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture. In 2006, this institute was transformed into the Institute of Regional and Minority Studies (Ústav regionálnych a národnostných štúdií – ÚRNŠ), focusing on research on the region and its minorities, where the position of the Rusyn department was reduced – it only became a group for the Rusyn language and culture of the Department for Research on National Issues at ÚRNŠ PU. During all that time, the output of the department members (or “group” members’) work did not stay unnoticed. After Prof. RNDr. René Matlovič, Ph.D. became the rector of Prešov University in 2007 and after the resulting structural changes to the university had taken effect, his proposal was approved by the university Academic Senate on February 12th, 2008. As a result, the department (or group) of Rusyn language and culture was transformed into an autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture. Surely, V. Turok would be as pleased as we are, since it is, although indirectly, also to his credit. If it were not for the previous steps, there would not be the present positive outcome.

Alexander ZOZUĽÁK, 2. 6. 2008



“Our own identity means a lot for us”,...


... the students of L. Stöckel Secondary Comprehensive School in Bardejov claim unequivocally. There was a threefold reason to ask Dr. Marcel Tribus, the school Headmaster, for permission to visit the school – to address the young generation with the issue of ethnic identity and, at the same time, to inform potential university students about the possibility to study the newly accredited programme Rusyn Language and Culture in combination with twelve other subjects at the University of Prešov. Having mentioned a threefold reason, or, rather, three points that have initiated the meeting, we had in mind the following: Peter Čulák from Bardejov, a student of the school in question, who, for the Secondary Academic Work (Stredoškolská odborná činnosť – SOČ) chose the topic I have been a Rusyn and I will be one... (a paraphrase of Я Русин был..., a line by the national revivalist A. Dukhnovich) (P. Čulák’s work can be found below in the same column.) This was a positive point that gave the author of this article a signal that our young generation is interested in their origin. In the course of events, a young student who wanted to present Rusyns as an ethnic group to his classmates, also learnt many new facts about Rusyns. He was surprised to hear about the recently launched book of Rusyn fairy tales by the Kostova sisters from Kurov Приповідкы на добру ніч (Good-night Stories). An interest in organising a discussion with the authors of the fairy tales was another reason why we had decided to visit the abovementioned secondary school. Our plans were even speeded up by a phone call from the Headmaster of the oldest secondary comprehensive school in Bardejov, who welcomed the idea of presenting the Rusyn language study programme at University of Prešov to students who are taking their A-level exams (Maturita exams) soon.


Participants in the discussion with students of L. Stöckel Secondary Comprehensive School in Bardejov (from right): PhDr. K. Koporová, an editor of the Narodny Novînky Press and Rusîn; Mgr. A. Zozuľák, the editor-in-chief of the above issues; Mgr. Alena Blichová; an assistant at the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture, Institute of Regional and Ethnic Minority Studies, University of Prešov and PhDr. A. Plišková, PhD, a senior assistant at the same department.


The discussion with students, which took place on February 8th, 2007, met our expectations, as well as expectations of students. It also outlined visions of the future cooperation. At the beginning, the student Peter Čulák introduced the topic of Rusynity to the students by means of his rhetorical presentation I have been a Rusyn and I will be one…, enriched by slides showing the most significant personalities of the Rusyn revival. The most significant guest Mgr. Alexander Zozuľák, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Русин (Rusín) аnd the weekly newspaper Народны новинкы (Narodny Novinky Press) and the Deputy of the World Council of Rusyns, talked about activities of Rusyns after November 1989, and also presented many Rusyn publications, issued in Slovakia after 1989. For students of the fourth (final) year, the most topical piece of information came from PhDr. Anna Pliškova, PhD., from the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture, Institute of Regional and Ethnic Minority Studies, University of Prešov, about the conditions of accepting students for Rusyn language studies, as well as job possibilities after graduation. Mgr. Alena Blichová, a doctoral student at the University of Prešov, a graduate of Rusyn language studies informed the students about world and homeland activities of Rusyn youth organisations, and also about further possibilities of self-realisation for young Rusyns. At the end of the event, the author of this article asked the students a few questions about their approach to their own identity in the common Europe. The questions were aimed at their opinions of the need to learn about history and culture and the need to preserve the traditions and customs of our ancestors. We got answers to the question whether these issues are important in the lives of young people, or whether they are not accepted any more and, rather, pushed aside as something unnecessary, or maybe even obsolete or old-fashioned.


Petra Mihalčinová, Bardejov: My parents come from Šariš, but, searching the family tree, I have found out that, in our family, we also have Rusyn ancestors. I think that finding our own identity and learning about our roots is important for the future and we should not give it up. The traditions and customs of our ancestors need to be saved for the future generations.


Ivana Vančíková, Bardejov: My parents are of Rusyn origin – my mum comes from Ondavka and my dad was brought up in Kurimka. We speak Rusyn at home and I am convinced that minority languages should not be suppressed for the sake of world ones. They should be preserved, because it is a piece of our identity.


Zuzana Kokindová, Bardejov: I was surprised to find out that Rusyn language has been codified and, today, for the very first time, I had the opportunity to hear Rusyn in its codified form. It sounds good. In my opinion, languages of minorities have their place in the world, they need to be preserved and developed.


Marek Baňka, Bardejov: I used to spend every summer holiday in Kurov, so I was in intense touch with other Rusyns in the village. My family are also Rusyns, although we live in a town where Rusynism is not so powerful. That is why everything which is Rusyn is so close to me. In villages it is natural that people communicate in Rusyn. It seems to me that we, Slavs, should do more to present ourselves, our culture and traditional values to the world.


Jana Čuláková, Bardejov: Both my parents are Rusyn, which is why we were brought up in this spirit. Thanks to this, we have no doubts about our nationality. We should learn about the history of our ancestors, we should preserve their traditions, customs, religion, and also language; it is our most precious possession.


Mária Šurkalová, Becherov: My national orientation was influenced by my family and also by Father Vladimír Pančák from Becherov. I am convinced that Rusyn nationality as well as Rusyn language should not disappear and, to prevent this, the young generation must continue the started work. That is why I have decided, after I have finished this secondary school, to study my mother tongue – Rusyn.


Peter Čulák, Bardejov: My interest in own identity is obvious from my rhetorical presentation. I think I will also succeed with my SOČ work about Rusyns. Although I have chosen a university in the field of economy, I will still be interested in Rusyns and I believe that, during my studies, I will keep dealing with Rusyn issues.

Kvetoslava KOPOROVÁ, March 7th, 2007




The past decade has seen an enormous growth worldwide of scholarly interest in the history and culture of Carpatho-Rusyns. Several talented young scholars of various national backgrounds, who accept the premise that Carpatho-Rusyns form a distinct people, have earned doctoral degrees at leading universities for Ph.D. dissertations in the fields of history, linguistics, literature, musicology, and sociology. Among these are Helena Duc’-Fajfer (Jagellonian University, Poland, 1997), Lenora Decarlo (Florida State University, USA, 1998), Alexander Teutsch (Heidelberg University, Germany, 2001), Eva Michna (Jagellonian University, Poland, 2001), Marc Stegherr (Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich, Germany, 2002), and Bogdan Horbal (University of Wrocław, Poland, 2005).

The latest to join the ranks of scholars whose dissertations is on a topic of Rusyn studies is Anna Plišková, who in November 2006 was awarded the Ph.D. degree from Slovak Academy of Sciences Institute for Slavic Studies in Bratislava, Slovakia. Dr. Plišková, who since 1999 teaches at Prešov University’s Department of Rusyn Language and Literature, was also holder of the Steven Chepa Fellowship in Rusyn Studies at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation, Списовный язык карпатьскых Русинів: проблемы становліня, кодіфікації, акцептації і сфер функціонуваня, was written under the direction of the distinguished Slavist, Professor Ján Dorul’a.

What makes Dr. Plišková’s work unique is the fact that it is the first dissertation written entirely in the Rusyn literary language. The appearance of her dissertation is not only a triumphant personal achievement, it is also a historic moment which reveals that the scholarly world recognizes the existence of Rusyns as a distinct Slavic people, and that the Rusyn language can be used for scholarly and scientific publications. Clearly Dr. Anna Plišková has shown to other young scholars that it is not only possible to undertake scholarly projects on Rusyn topics but also to publish the results of such research in the Rusyn language.

Prof. Dr. Paul Robert MAGOCSI, PhD.,

University of Toronto, Canada, 10. 1. 2007