CEU Mourns the Loss of Josef Jarab

May 5, 2023

Josef Jarab, a former senator in the Czech Parliament and the first rector of the Palacky University in Olomouc after the collapse of socialism, died on May 3 after a short illness at the age of 85. A translator and literary theorist, he devoted himself to literature written in English.

After serving as rector of Palacky University from 1990 until 1997, he became rector of Central European University (CEU), where he led the university from 1997 to 1999. From 1996 to 1998, Jarab was a senator for Olomouc, and from 2000 to 2006 for Opava. From 2008 to 2009, he was a member of the Council of Czech Television.

Within the academic environment, Jarab, as a graduate of English and Russian studies at the Faculty of Arts of the Palacky University, was a professor of English and American literature there. Between 1964 and 1968, he completed his doctoral studies at the school of philosophy in Presov, where he also lectured. He worked at the Ostrava Language School and the Banska University, as a Czech language lecturer at the University of November 17 and from 1972 at the Palacky University.

During his tenure at the universities, he did not join the Communist Party and, unlike his colleagues, he did not become a member of the Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship Union. He met with dissidents, and one of his close friends was Milan Horinek, a signatory of Charter 77. Jarab and Jaroslav Koran prepared a book called "Dite na sklenik" about American poetry at the time, but the police confiscated it while it was still in the printing house. Due to these activities, Jarab was summoned several times for questioning at the StB. In 1989, he became one of the leading figures of the Velvet Revolution and a founding member of the Civic Forum in Olomouc.

Jarab was the co-author of several anthologies, focusing mainly on American literature. In 2018, still teaching at the university in Olomouc, he published the book, “Rector's Remembrance.”