Home / News / News and Events / Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov: “The academic community is the champion of a prestigious tradition, which has to be respected, supported and enthusiastically developed.”

Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov: “The academic community is the champion of a prestigious tradition, which has to be respected, supported and enthusiastically developed.”

The academic 2017/2018 year of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” was officially opened with a solemn ceremony at the Aula magna. Following tradition, at the beginning of the celebration, the Rector and the Academic Council laid flowers to the monuments of the donors, Evlogi Georgiev and Christo Georgiev.

Guest of the official opening of the academic year was the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Roumen Radev.

The ceremony at the Aula was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Education Peter Nikolov, the Chairperson of the Council of Rectors Professor Lyuben Totev, the Rector of the University of Medicine Professor Victor Zlatkov, representatives of the governing boards of high academic institutions, Associate Professor Dr Lilyana Vulcheva, Chairperson of the National Academic Trade Unions, Associate Professor Mihail Gruev, Chairperson of the Archives State Agency, Yana Vangelova, Chairperson of the National Representation of the Students’ Councils, representatives from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, faculty, students and their relatives.

Alma mater’s Rector welcomed the audience in the Aula and noted that during the coming year the oldest and biggest Bulgarian University enters its 130th anniversary, which came to show that the academic community was a champion of a venerable tradition that had to be always held in high esteem.


Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov recalled some of the achievements of the University that had warranted the well-earned recognition that it enjoyed – its place in the national rating system and in the international classifications; the wide gamut of bachelor’s and master’s programs, the scientific publications, the projects and awards; its cultural activities and its role in the spiritual life of the country. The University is actively involved in the teaching process of more than 10% of the country’s students, including more than 1000 foreign students, whereas its scientific production equals that of the remaining 51 universities taken together. Every year, more than 1000 scientific and cultural events take place within the walls of the University buildings, most of them monuments of culture.

“This is why we are deeply disappointed when, this year, one more time the best Bulgarian university was the target of undeserved attacks. The dignified way to respond to the undeserved criticism was to score more successes”, the Rector remarked. He stressed that Sofia University remained the top academic institution on the preference list in this country – while the number of applicants for university courses is decreasing, this year’s number of applicants for Sofia University has increased by 730. “For some subjects we had thousands of applicants, and for one of the newly introduced subjects, as far as female applicants were concerned, we admitted only the applicants who had straight A’s“, Professor Gerdzhikov pointed out and specified that the reason for the interest lay in the quality of the educational process and the level of scientific research at Sofia University.


The University is becoming also attractive to student-applicants as a result of the feedback data coming from the National Security Institute and other institutions concerning the realization of university graduates. The data show that Sofia University alumni are offered better paid jobs within a short period of time. The Rector also added that “That is why it is a shame when instead of reacting to campaigns of vilification society not only tolerates such a shameful attitude to its best university but also shares in its complacency. It seems to me that this type of nihilism is a symptom of worse ills in society than those of violating the rights of our most venerable university or any other institution for that purpose.”

In his speech the Rector drew attention to some of the problems of the past three decades in this country. According to him, the Bulgarians had lost faith, withdrawn into themselves, trying to retire into the family circle and turning their backs to the social processes. The man in the street’s growing conviction that nothing depends on themselves makes them refrain from being an active part of society. Yet, as is widely known, no man is an island and the natural need to be part of social life undergoes malignant mutations of hatred for anyone and anything.


Professor Gerdzhikov appealed to put an end in wasting our energy in fighting each other, shift the blame on or point an accusing finger at someone else; rather, we should use the latter energy creatively, not destructively. He went on to add that a great social cause that was worth uniting us was missing; there was no vision of the future, nor a new national ideal.

“We are facing an urgent need of all that, that is, something to outline the goal for us, the dream that we are all after and that we all work for its achievement; the road to the success that will make Bulgaria the dearest motherland at heart and not in mere words. It is time someone restored our self-confidence and dreams, and took us on the road of the desired future”, the Rector stressed.


Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov turned to his young colleagues and pointed out that the desired future was theirs and was up to them to happen. He appealed to their tireless work and diligent dedication to their studies in the acquisition of knowledge and skills from their experienced teachers. He advised them to make the optimal use of the students’ mobility programs to learn more and not to stay unfamiliar with people of foreign languages and cultures because their ultimate goal was to become citizens of integrity and people of lifelong learning.

“You must become Bulgarians worthy of their nation, but, above all, you must remain humane, humaneness being the most important personal attribute,” Professor Gerdzhikov said and added that if they were to achieve the objective, they would succeed in building the future and realizing the dreams their ancestors failed to. The Rector also noted that that could be achieved not only by making full use of their talents, hard work and innovative thinking; they also had to work together, renounce any envy, give up the eternal grumbling and head straight for the future.


„Real happiness lies in the creative construction, not in the attitude assumed by misunderstood heroes”, Professor Gerdzhikov said and advised his young colleagues to scrupulously identify their real calling and occupation, so that they would do their future work with pleasure and the Bulgarian expression “things Bulgarian” would no longer be a synonym of anything done in a slipshod manner but, rather, of work completed diligently, with talent and precision.

He pointed out that there had already been examples in the economy’s sectors which were successful, and young, highly qualified people for such jobs preferred staying in this country to leaving for abroad because in this country they can achieve both material welfare and peace with themselves.


The Rector appealed to all present to work arduously towards turning other spheres of social life attractive, and create their own happiness not by suppressing the others but, rather, by means of self-perfection. “I wish you all to leave behind everything that may divide you from your other fellow-countrymen or from other people. I wish you to adopt the road to creativity so that you will be masters of your own future”, Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov concluded and declared the new 2017/2018 academic year open.

The academic community greeted cordially the President of the Republic Roumen Radev, who addressed the packed to capacity Aula with the words: “Dear colleagues, May I address you that way because that is the conventional way of addressing in the temple of science. For me it is both an honour and pleasure to be present at the opening of the academic year at Alma mater”. In his words, Sofia University is the secular temple of Bulgaria because within its walls Bulgarians of all creeds and ethnic groups congregate to venerate one common religion – that of knowledge.


The President noted that the University was a cradle of critical thinking and freedom, and pointed out that in all times the university students, both in this country and abroad, were always the conscience of their respective nations: “Young Bulgarians are few and far between nowadays. This is why you are called, you have to change radically the moral environment of the country and it is you who have to annihilate ignorance from our public life.”

The head of state appealed to the men of law and the journalists to constantly fight injustice, corruption and the mafia; never to get reconciled to the mentality of sleuths, feudal nepotism, hypocrisy and depravity which, in their turn, daily generate social impasse. “That impasse banished hundreds of thousands of young Bulgarians like you away from the motherland”, Roumen Radev stressed.

In the President’s words, during the hard times of the transition period, many people took the injustice for our national destiny, and it was time that the young Bulgarians had taken over their generation mission of throwing off fatalism and adopting the affirmation and assertion of justice. “This is what your own future depends on. The future of Bulgaria is in your hands“, was the categorical statement of the President.


Roumen Radev stated also that the spirit of compromise was not always the road to happiness and appealed to the Bulgarian students to stick to the pursuit of their ideals. “Be critical and uncompromising when it comes to issues of values and the motherland. Be aware that every generation has its mission in the fight for the Bulgarian cause.The fight for democracy was the mission of your parents. A society of justice, integrity and high moral standards is your mission. This is also my dream for Bulgaria“, the Bulgarian head of state concluded.

During the solemn ceremony the Rector, Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov, and the President of the Republic, Roumen Radev, gave out students’ ID books to first-year students, winners at national competitions.


The guests of the ceremony, the members of the Academic Council, the faculty, the students and their relatives were also addressed by the Chairperson of the Students’ Council at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” Vasil Silyanovsky. He said it was his third time he had had the pleasure of addressing the audience in the Aula on the occasion of opening the academic year in the oldest and most prestigious high academic institution in this country. Vasil Silyanovsky reminded the audience that in previous years he had spoken about the advantages that staying in this country would give to young people and that the University was the right place for their formation as discrete individuals and as active critical citizens ready to overcome difficulties and fight injustice.


In his address Vasil Silyanovsky dwelt on the development of new technologies facilitating our lives. “It is claimed that only in a couple of years the working day will be four hours and most of today’s professions won’t exist tomorrow. It is widely held that with the development of technologies and artificial intelligence the university will no longer occupy such an important place. This cannot be true because the sole aim of education has always been knowledge, not knowledge of the facts but rather that of values. Sofia University has always inculcated in its alumni to master reasoning and not to control it“.

Turning to the students, the Chairperson of the Students’ Council noted that the first lesson they had to learn, when getting within the walls of Alma mater, was to find the way to themselves and the road to their own calling.

On the occasion of opening the new 2017/ 2018 academic year of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” the academic community received congratulatory addresses from numerous social and state institutions, partners of the University.

The celebration continued with the opening of the academic year at the 16 faculties of Sofia University. 4 588 first-year students have stepped within the walls of the oldest high academic institution in this country.