CEU Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

Central European University was born in 1991 out of an idea and a promise. The idea was to create a place where scholars can speak openly, enquire deeply and take intellectual risks. The promise was that when the walls came down in Central Europe, students and faculty could be drawn from across the region, and eventually from all over the world, to a university dedicated to the principles of open society. The founders of CEU, led by George Soros, Vaclav Havel and other leaders of the democratic revolutions of 1989 had a vision for a new kind of university. CEU has fulfilled that vision.

Today CEU is a global university with students from over 100 countries and faculty and staff from nearly 50. Our alumni, perhaps our greatest testament to what and who CEU is, now number over 13,000 and are working toward positive change in over 130 countries. They have become leaders in politics, civil society, academics, and business – changemakers and advocates, grounded in a firm belief in the role for open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity.

Today, as CEU turns 25, we celebrate our achievements and look forward to many new initiatives on the horizon, including not least, our exciting campus redevelopment project, the first phase of which will be completed this summer. Feel free to browse these pages to learn more about CEU – its past, present, and future.

John Shattuck

President and Rector
“CEU’s open society mission is more urgent today than at any time since the University was founded. We are once again on the frontiers of democracy – exactly where CEU belongs.”

Agnes Batory /IRES '98/

Professor at the School of Public Policy;
Research Fellow of the Center for Policy Studies
“The circumstances have changed, and our geographic scope has changed, but the idea that we are here not just to educate, but to imbue students with a certain set of values, remains intact.”

Stefan Roch

PhD Student at the School of Public Policy,
Volunteer with the Keleti Connected Wi-Fi for refugees project
“I learned about the Wifi for refugees project in the CEU Helps Facebook group, initiated by a CEU student. There are so many initiatives around, everybody at CEU is very active. It’s a tight community of people who want to do something, a very enabling environment.”

Nadia Al-Bagdadi

Professor in the Department of History; Director of the Institute for Advanced Study
“Budapest is a great magnet for many of the fellows, partly for the great network of scholars here, and partly because IAS is a university-based institute, not a national one. CEU and IAS have a reputation of being open, cutting-edge, and adventurous, ideal for trying out new research.”

Zsuzsanna Jaszberenyi

Director of Admissions; Volunteer for the homeless
“In winter 2009, Budapest shelters ran out of funds and couldn’t provide food for the homeless. Families were encouraged to cook for people in need. After doing so for a while at home, I shared the call with the CEU community, and we repeat the drive every year.”

Miklos Koren

Associate Professor in the Department of Economics; Director of Business Analytics Program
“To create business value from data, you need a full spectrum of skills in statistics, technology, economics, and management. This motivated the Department of Economics and CEU Business School to team up to create a new program that responds to an existing business need.”

Diane Geraci

Director of the CEU Library
“Libraries are great promoters of the democratization of information. As the CEU Library expands into a new, modern space, it will become even more vital to the intellectual life of the CEU community and to other researchers in Budapest, Central and Eastern Europe, and well beyond.”

Tijana Krstic

Associate Professor in the Departments of Medieval Studies and History; Research Fellow at the Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies
“The bureaucratic aspects of ERC grant application and management can be really trying for academics, but the dedicated staff at the ACRO office at CEU makes it all so much easier. CEU also has senior faculty sitting in panels awarding grants to new generations of researchers. That’s a huge resource.”

Liviu Matei

Provost and Pro-Rector
“From the beginning CEU has been dedicated to promoting open society. It has pursued this mission through research, research-based teaching, and civic commitment. In the early years, open society was primarily understood in the context of the post-communist transition. We are now taking a fresh look at what it means to be a university dedicated to open society.”

Eva Fodor

Associate Professor in the Department of Gender Studies
“CEU is prominently positioned to address the issue of ethnic inequalities, that is, the plight of the Roma community. Faculty from different disciplines study intersections of inequality and find innovative ways to discuss these intersections.”

Nilofer Khan Habibullah

MA Student at the School of Public Policy; Author of the poem "Diversity," cited below
“During our journey, you begin to see how diversity is what clips you free from your attachments, so you may move ahead without any lament; / During our journey, you come to appreciate all that makes you ‘you’, because everybody else is taken and there exists only one person like you…”

Margaryta Rymarenko

Doctoral Student at the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations
“There’s a lot going on in Ukraine right now, and it would be exciting to be part of this big change in my country. I would like to teach in Ukraine, or get involved in education management. There are things you can borrow from CEU – it’s about initiative, about encouraging students to do exciting things.”

Simon Rippon

Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and at the School of Public Policy
“Philosophy helps us to understand the deeper value system that lies behind widely-accepted concepts such as freedom of speech. It’s important that there’s a much broader public understanding of these issues. CEU as an institution brings academic expertise to a broader audience and spreads these ideas within communities.”

Levente Littvay

Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science; Winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award in Fall 2015
“ This is a very mature international community of scholars who want to be scholars. We work together with students as colleagues. They are mature enough so the student-teacher relationship breaks down. I’m just a more experienced colleague.”

Pal Baross

Director of the Campus Redevelopment Office
“CEU’s new campus is sustainable, interconnected, and open to the public, reflecting CEU’s mission. The new strong public facade and students spending more time in and around campus enjoying this lively environment will have a positive impact on the neighborhood.”

CEU25 News

The Open Society University Network (OSUN) Global Observatory on Academic Freedom has published its first global report.

As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, the CEU community gathered to reflect on the University's founding vision with a discussion with Founder and Honorary Chairman George Soros on June 24, 2016. CEU was founded in 1991 as a place where scholars can speak openly, enquire deeply and take intellectual risks, as a university dedicated to the principles of open society.

As part of CEU's 25th anniversary celebrations, Chairman of the CEU Board of Trustees Leon Botstein conducted the Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra through pieces that reflect CEU's history as both a Hungarian and American university. The June 25 musical celebration took place at Budapest's grand Liszt  Academy, with soloist Xheni Rroji on piano. Music has played a vital and pivotal role in the history of politics, culture and society in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the U.S.

As CEU President and Rector John Shattuck prepares to step down after seven years of outstanding service, the University is preserving his legacy by renaming the Center of Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery in honor of his visionary leadership of CEU. Canadian Michael Ignatieff was elected as CEU's fifth president and rector and will begin his term later this summer. 

CEU's campus redevelopment project reached a milestone June 24 when the large "CEU" letters were affixed to the new Nador 15 facade. Excitement is building as the end of Phase I of the three-phase project approaches and CEU prepares to open the new Nador 15 and the renovated Nador 13, which will house a new, large auditorium, the five-floor library, CEU Business School, and several other academic and administrative units.