Mojmir Povolny, Emeritus Professor of Government and Henry M. Wriston Professor of Social Sciences died suddenly in Appleton. He was 90 years old.
Professor Povolny taught at Lawrence from 1958 to 1987. He began his academic career with a J.D. degree from Masaryk University School of Law in Czechoslovakia.
He came to the United States and earned a Ph.D. degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago. At Lawrence, Professor Povolny taught courses on human rights, international politics, European democracies, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia and Communist rule. He was an active figure on the Lawrence campus. In 1969, he became the chair of The Select Committee on Planning which was charged with investigating the elements of a revised liberal arts education at Lawrence and formulating a coherent institutional plan that would lead to the implementation of a liberal arts curriculum at Lawrence. In addition, during his tenure at Lawrence, Professor Povolny shepherded more than 50 LU mentees. He was honored with the Lawrence University Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1986.
Upon his retirement in 1987, Povolny was praised for his service as an “academic dean, department chair, wise counselor to presidents, confidant to colleagues, pedagogical innovator, scholar, and, above all, generous guide and teacher to students.” To honor his retirement, the Mojmir Povolny Prize in Government was established. It is given annually to an outstanding senior government student.
In recognition of Povolny’s commitment to the education of students, the Department of Government named its lecture series after him. Since 1987 the Mojmir Povolny Lecturship in International Studies has brought numerous distinguished internationally acclaimed scholars to campus to address crucial issues of the day.
“Professor Povolny was a wonderful colleague and a gentleman,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Dave Burrows. “He played a central role in helping Lawrence become aware of the vital importance of global affairs in the life of each person. He inspired the Povolny lecture series that is a critical part of the intellectual life of the University. Always friendly and supportive, he was a central figure in Lawrence’s development as a nationally prominent university.”
Professor Povolny also took an active role in international politics. After the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, during which he was executive secretary of the Benes Party, he left the country. He worked with the anti-communist movement in exile. From 1974 to 1993, he served as chair of the council. He has also served on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and with the American Friends Service Committee. On October 28, 1995 the independence day of the Czech Republic, Czech President Vaclav Havel presented him with the Masaryk Order, the Czech Republic’s highest civilian honor, “for his service to democracy and human rights”.
Professor Povolny is survived by his wife, Joy, and sons Daniel and David.
A formal obituary will be published in the Appleton-Post Crescent.
An on-campus memorial is being planned. Details will be forthcoming.