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Professor Gerdjikov: “The University must be a  sanctuary of reason and spiritual power”

Sofia University marked the feast day of its heavenly patron, St. Kliment Ohridski.

The academic community of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” celebrated its patron’s day with an academic ceremony. The feast day commenced with a holy liturgy officiated by His Grace Metropolitan Yosif for the USA, Canada and Australia in the presence of His Holiness Patriarch Neofit at the Academic Chapel. The celebration continued with the laying of a wreath at the monument of St. Kliment Ohridski followed by an academic ceremony at Aula Magna of Sofia University.

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The solemn ceremony was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Ms Meglena Kouneva, the secretary for education, science and civil society at the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria, Docent Roumyana Kolarova, the mayoress of the city of Sofia, Ms Yordanka Fandukova, representatives of the diplomatic missions of Japan, Iran, Russia, China, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, members of the Academic Council, Sofia University faculty representatives.

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With the words, “With a new Rector to lead you I wish you an auspicious year ahead,” the out-going Rector Professor Dr. Habil. Ivan Ilchev opened the academic celebration.

Professor Dr. Habil. Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, welcomed the guests present in the Aula Magna and talked about the historical significance of the feast day. Sofia University has been marking the feast day of St. Kliment Ohridski since 1902 with few interruptions: with the change of the calendar the feast day was moved to 8th December. With the restoration of the Julian calendar the feast day was moved back to 25th November; Sofia University generously gave 8th of December to the whole Bulgarian academic community and that was how the holiday of the Bulgarian academic youth got to a start.

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“St. Kliment Ohridski is our patron saint. He was a highly spiritual person who made an enormous contribution to the heritage of the Slavic peoples. His dedicated service to education and science made him the best choice of a patron saint of this University, whose mission is to be the major national high academic, scientific, cultural and information center enjoying high international renown and widely recognized cultural and social importance. It generates the core of the intellectual elite in this country and enlightens our national identity. It also makes a significant contribution to the Bulgarian participation in the world development of science and education, and is called to safeguard, enrich and get through the ages science and the aspirations of the spirit to knowledge and truth,” the Rector added.

In his speech Professor Gerdzhikov pointed out that it had been high time an overall Strategy for the Development of Sofia University had been adopted. Its preparation needs comprehensive, systematic and proper analysis of the problems and achievements of the University, its social milieu and the developmental tendencies. In Professor Gerdzhikov’s words the strategy is expected to outline the long-time vision and the priority areas for the development of Alma mater in the spheres of education and science and come up with ideas and measures for the enhancement of the quality of education and scientific research, the increase of the number of students, projects and funding. It also has to address issues of structural and faculty policy and the improvement of the rating of Sofia University in the world ranking systems.

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Professor Gerdzhikov singled out the raising of the public standing of the University as a major objective. He emphasized the necessity of promoting the overall image and the achievements of Sofia University as a leading educational, scientific and cultural center.

The Rector appealed to the academic community to pay honorable tribute to its patron-saint in 2016, the 1100th anniversary of the Dormition of St. Kliment, by presenting many multifarious initiatives showing the results of the educational, scientific and cultural activities of the University and pointing specifically to their public benefit.

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“The pending challenge facing Sofia University is the task to uphold its high yardstick of the quality of education and the scientific activities, and continue its successful development as the oldest, biggest and most prestigious research university in this country,” Professor Gerdzhikov added and he went on to say that in today’s difficult situation it is necessary to have a clear-cut analysis, know what was right and what was wrong, find new ways of moving on, and prepare a whole complex of measures to be fulfilled.

According to Professor Gerdzhikov closer cooperation is expected with the Ministry of Education and Science and the other state institutions for the establishment and implementation of the state policy in the domain of university education and science. Sofia University must become the driving force and permanent partner in the process of decision making and also participate in the formation of the policy with its experts.

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The Rector expressed his deep belief that, amongst the measures that would stimulate the quality of the educational process and scientific research, were the adoption of national criteria for academic positions, significant differentiation of the funding of the high academic institutions based on the quality of the education they offer and the realization of their graduates on the market, the differentiation of the funding of the scientific activities on the basis of objective indices of achieved results, target financing of strategically important areas for the country.

Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov stressed that the state policy should also be ‘translated’ within the walls of the University to stimulate the leading teams, the best members of faculty and the most creative research workers. Priority should be given to the clear specification of the contribution and the expenses of every unit, academic subject and master’s program. The Rector pointed to the need of optimization of the activities of the University, the elimination of the duplication of activities and the adaptation of syllabi and programs to public needs.

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According to Professor Gerdzhikov the implementation of strict and fair criteria for attestation and the differentiation in the remuneration in terms of the contribution and the results, the fair distribution of the assets allocated for scientific activities, and the institutional mechanisms for the stimulation of research having public effect and international significance and visibility should be amongst the main objectives of the academic community of Sofia University.

The Rector dwelt on the importance of procuring funding from the Science and Education for Intelligent Growth Operational Program and from other operational programs as well as the active participation in building centers of excellence and competence jointly with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the natural partner of Sofia University.

“I believe that together we can achieve all that; I believe that Bulgaria needs such a University; I also believe that we have a mission worthy of our patron St. Kliment Ohridski,” said the Rector of Sofia University Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov in conclusion.

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Professor Dr. Boris Gulubov delivered an academic speech on the topic of ”The Application of Spectroscopic and Theoretic Methods for the Clarification of Reaction Mechanisms in Chemistry ”. In his academic speech Professor Gulubov reviewed the history of benzene (benzol). Michael Faraday was the first to isolate benzene (benzol) in 1825 as butyraceous remainder of burning gas and names it bicarburet of hydrogen. Around 97% of the nitrobenzene is used for the production of anillin, an essential source in the production of chemicals in the rubber industry, pesticides, dyes, explosives, and pharmaceutical products.

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“Our spectral research in the ultraviolet and visible region on the nitration of benzene with nitrite mixture presents clear experimental evidence of the first intermediate, long sought for in the research work on this classical reaction. In contrast with the widely accepted conceptions both the spectroscopic data and the theoretical computations reject the hypothesis that there is transfer of an electron at the stage of the formation of a π-complex in the medium of nitrated mixture,” Professor Gulubov noted.

Professor Boris Gulubov talked more at length on the main results of his research work obtained as part of his joint work with his colleagues, drew attention to his rating on the citation index and commented on the work of other research workers in the field. According to the reviews the brief discussion of the mechanism of the electrophilic aromatic substitution can bring about a radical revision of the concept of this reaction and totally newly conceptualized chapters in the textbooks.

Other research workers point out that the convincing results of the computational analysis bring about a change in the understanding of a classical reaction: “New results are presented which, in consonance with other data, establish a new model. In brief, this is a meticulously conducted project presented in an academic way and supported with experimental data.”

As his co-authors Professor Gulubov singled out Gergana Koleva and Boryana Hadzhieva from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Svetlana Simova from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Henry Schaefer III and Paul Schlauer from the University of Georgia.

In conclusion Professor Gulubov referred to statistical data of the financing of fundamental scientific research in Eastern European countries by state scientific foundations in 2015. Professor Gulubov stressed the urgency of more substantial financing of science and remarked that without high-level science it would be impossible for the universities to offer high quality education to their students.

During the celebration the Deputy Rector of Alma mater Professor Dr. Habil. Albena Chavdarova announced the names of the newly-elected professors for the period 25th November, 2014 – 25th November 2015. She also added that during that period 76 colleagues were conferred a Ph. D. and 13 – D. Sc. or D. Litt. 37 were the newly-elected docents. The newly-elected professors at Sofia University were 28 and they received their certificates from the Rector.

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Traditionally, awards for the past year are bestowed on outstanding members of faculty and students on the feast day of Sofia University. Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov announced the Sofia Municipality Award, 2015, for the best young scholar at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski. This year’s laureate is Docent Dr. Maria Soskova from the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics.

Mrs Yordanka Fandukova, Mayoress of the city of Sofia, congratulated the academic community of Sofia University on the solemn occasion: “It is wonderful that the University has as its patron-saint St. Kliment Ohridski because I am sure that neither to him nor to his disciples was it easy in those times to set up the first schools. I am sure that you, his followers, do not find the way easy either. Making science is not an easy task at all, neither is the teaching of young people nor is the dissemination of knowledge but I am fully convinced that you hold the cause deep in your hearts.” The Mayoress of Sofia extended her best wishes to all and wished that they keep the spirit of the city live and vigorous.

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Yordanka Fandukova thanked Professor Ilchev, who had been Sofia University Rector for eight years, and specially mentioned one of his goals that had born fruit, namely the foundation of the Young Scholar Award. “As far as I am concerned it is crucial that an institution such as the Municipality of Sofia stimulate in such a way the development of science and the early inclusion of young people in it,” Mrs Fandukova added.

At the end of her congratulatory speech the mayoress of Sofia wished success and perseverance to Professor Gerdzhikov, the newly-elected Rector of Sofia University, and expressed the readiness of Sofia Municipal Council to continue encouraging new ideas and realizing joint activities so that Sofia would remain a city of science both on national and international level.

The award bestowed on Docent Maria Soskova was given to her mother Docent Alexandra Soskova, Presently, Docent Maria Soskova is in the USA working on her “Sustainability of the Mathematical Model for Informational Content of Natural Problems” Project.

In 2004 Maria Soskova graduated in informatics at Sofia University with a B. Sc. with distinction. In 2005 she got her M. Sc. with distinction in mathematics at Sofia University specializing in “Logic and Algorithms”. She was conferred a Ph. D. in mathematics by the University of Leeds in 2008. Since 2008 she has been a mathematician at the Department of Mathematical Logic and Its Applications at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of Sofia University. In 2009 she was appointed senior assistant-professor I and in 2010 – senior assistant-professor II. In 2012 she was appointed docent at the same department. Docent Maria Soskova has authored or co-authored more than 25 articles in prestigious international publications. Some of her results, providing solutions to long-standing problems, go far beyond the interest of the narrow specialists in the theory of computability due to their general significance both in logic and in mathematics.

Docent Soskova has been a visiting professor at most prestigious scientific fora such as the Logic Colloquium 2014, IXth International Conference on Computability and Chance 2014. In 2015 Docent Soskova became co-chairperson of the Program Committee of the International Logic Conference in Bucharest and is a member of the Executive Committee of the series of conferences on “Computability” in Europe. This year Docent Soskova was awarded one of the three national scholarships granted by UNESCO and L’Oreal “For Women in Science”.

The Deputy Rector of Sofia University Docent Milena Stefanova, announced the laureates of the Annual Alma mater prizes for 2015-2016 awarded on the occasion of its feast day. The prizes are given for outstanding scientific achievements, cultural initiatives and high achievements in sports.

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Docent Stefanova congratulated her young colleagues on the occasion and wished all students to feel confident in their undergraduate studies: “Science is open to all of you who can do it and who want to do it. Be demanding and consistent,” Docent Stefanova concluded.

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Traditionally, on the feast day of Sofia University the Annual Brothers Evlogi and Hristo Georgievs Scholarship was awarded to a Karlovo-born student. This year it went to Georgi Angelov, a second-year student in Optimization at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics.

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The Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication Docent Teodora Petrova announced the prizes that went to students from the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication and said that the students awarded those prizes, apart from being A students, they had also made successful debuts in the mass media world. Bozhana Dimitrova bestowed the Annual Nadezhda Jeneva Scholarship on Elenitsa Marinova, a fourth-year student in Journalism with Radio as special subject.

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Yavor Tsakov presented the Annual Professor Mihail Minkov Scholarship for undergraduate achievements in radio or TV journalism to Bozhidar Nikolov, a fourth-year student in Journalism with Television as special subject. Yavor Tsakov pointed to the fact that the award had been founded by a group of students of Professor Minkov who set as their goal to span a bridge between the generations, Professor Minkov’s work and the present day activities of faculty at the University.

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Aneta Milkova, member of the Executive Committee of the Bulgarian National Television bestowed the Annual Dr, Mladen Mladenov Scholarship jointly with the Bulgarian National Radio on Zhivka Getsova, a fourth-year student in Journalism with Television as main subject. Mrs Milkova congratulated faculty and students at Sofia University. The award was founded in 2002.

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The Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, Docent Evgenia Velikova announced the laureate of the Annual Professor Ivan Soskov Award bestowed on an outstanding undergraduate or Ph. D. Student at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics for research and scientific achievements in the domain of mathematical logic and computer studies. The Rector presented the award to Dimiter Georgiev, a Ph. D. student.

The celebration finished with a music program performed by faculty and Ph. D. students from the Department of Music at the Faculty of Preschool and Primary School Education of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski.

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