President of Harvard Faust Supports CEU

April 5, 2017

Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University has sent the following letter to Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban Viktor and Ambassador of Hungary to the United States, Reka Szemerkenyi in support of CEU on April 4.

Office of the President
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

April 4, 2017

As the president of a graduate research university in the United States, I am writing to express my support for a valued partner, Central European University (CEU), and to express my concern at proposed legislative changes to CEU's status in Hungary. These changes would endanger the academic freedom vital for CEU's continued operation in Budapest and would strike a blow to the academic freedom that enables all universities, including those in Hungary, to flourish.

In twenty-five years, CEU has established itself as a private international university with a global reputation for teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities. It attracts students from 117 countries and faculty from 40. Its masters and doctoral programs are accredited by the State of New York, and the University as a whole is certified by the Unites States Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Its programs are also certified by appropriate Hungarian authorities.

In international rankings, some of CEU's departments are rated among the top 50 in the world. It is the most successful institution in securing European Research Council grants in Central and Eastern Europe. Several of its faculty, in fields as various as medieval studies, network science, and cognitive science, have won the most prestigious awards in their disciplines.

CEU's academic independence is guaranteed by a board of trustees that includes the chancellor designate of the University of California, Berkeley; the former provost of Columbia University, the president of Bard College, New York; and other academic and intellectual figures of high repute. Its programs are administered by independent academic departments, under the supervision of the university senate. Its rector is selected by the board of trustees and receives his or her formal appointment at the hands of the president of Hungary.

CEU is a valued member of the international academic community, and its presence in Hungary has added to the reputation of Hungarian academic life on the international stage. The government's proposed legislation to alter its statute of operation in Hungary would compromise its academic freedom and set a dangerous precedent for academic life in other countries. I respectfully urge the government to bear in mind the damage such legislation might do to Hungary's well-founded international academic reputation and to its relationships with its European partners and the United States.


Drew Gilpin Faust