Notable university figures
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
The university bears the name of its founder, T. G. Masaryk, who dedicated much of his life to the struggle for a second Czech university. Masaryk was well aware of the fact that Charles University in Prague was in need of a competitor and partner in order for both institutions to thrive.
The first rector of Masaryk University was an economist, politician, philosopher and one of the founding professors of the Faculty of Law. In addition to being a deputy of the National Assembly, he also served as Minister of Finance under six governments and subsequently headed the Czechoslovak National Bank.
In 1925 the world-famous composer received the first honorary doctorate issued by Masaryk University. His work is a testament to his cordial relationship with the university: his compositions supported the struggle for its establishment and celebrated the laying of the foundation stone of the Faculty of Law. The Faculty of Arts has since become the guardian of Janáček's artistic legacy and holds the copyrights to his musical and literary works.
Edward Babák came to Brno in 1919, the only full professor from Charles University to do so. In addition to his activities as professor of physiology, he also functioned as vice-dean and subsequently as dean of the Faculty of Medicine. He finally went on to become the rector of the entire university. In addition to playing a key role in the founding of MU, Babák also helped establish the Veterinary University and the University of Agriculture. He is known around the world for his research into the physiology of breathing.
Physiologist, endocrinology pioneer and biochemist Vilém Laufberger was an associate professor and subsequently professor of pathological physiology. He served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Brno and in Prague and participated in research at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, an institution he helped establish. His work contributed to our understanding of the effects of insulin and he is known for the discovery of ferritin.
The present-day Faculty of Arts complex is located on a street which bears the name of professor and rector Arne Novák. The extent of the work of the literary scholar and critic (and son of writer Tereza Nováková) is best exemplified by his monumental History of Czech Literature. In the interwar period he contributed significantly to the establishment of the People's News (Lidové noviny).
Roman Osipovič Jakobson
MU is proud to be associated with the extraordinary professor and lecturer of Slavic philology Roman Jakobson who was active at the Faculty of Arts in the interwar period. In addition to working at Harvard and Columbia University, the world-renowned linguist, literary historian and semiotician of Russian origin also co-founded the Prague Linguistic Circle.
Professor of constitutional law, legal philosopher and statistician František Weyr became the first dean of the Faculty of Law and subsequently also rector of MU. In addition to helping formulate normative legal theory, he also contributed to the formation of the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by MU in 1947.
Otakar Borůvka devoted most of his life to Masaryk University. After graduation from MU in 1922, he spent almost 50 years as an assistant, associate professor and professor. He founded the modern school of algebra, helped build the school of differential equations and established the Archivum Mathematicum journal.
Professor Vladimír Úlehla taught at the Faculty of Science and also served as its dean. His name is closely tied to ethnography and ecology; his research focused on plant growth, movement and irritability.
Biophysicist, founder and first director of the Institute of Biophysics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Brno, Ferdinand Herčík was a student of Vladimir Úlehla. He participated in international negotiations which produced the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In addition to serving on the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation in New York, he also functioned as an expert and deputy chairman of the Council of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and worked as a radiobiology expert for the World Health Organization in Geneva.
The Faculty of Science was also home to leading Moravian botanist Josef Podpěra. Following his appointment to professor, he served as faculty dean and subsequently as rector. After the death of Arne Novak, he remained at the helm of the closed university until 1942. His most famous work is the extensive Flora of Moravia in Systematic and Geobotanical Contexts.
Inocenc Arnošt Bláha
A leading figure of the Brno school of sociology, Bláha was appointed professor at the Faculty of Arts in 1922 and became dean nine years later. After the war, he instigated the establishment of the University of Social Studies in Brno and also served as its first rector. He founded the Sociology Review and was an active member of both the Masaryk Society of Sociology and the Philosophy Union.
Josef Ludvík Fischer
Professor J. L. Fischer taught philosophy and sociology at the Faculty of Arts and also served as its dean. In addition to coediting the Index in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he co-founded the Sociology Review and contributed to a number of expert journals. He also participated in the establishment of the Palacký University in Olomouc, where he subsequently served as the institution's first rector.