On Monday 27 February 2017, a final farewell to Professor Juraj Švec took place in the Comenius University Auditorium in Bratislava.

27. 02. 2017 13.59 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

On 17 February 2017, the oncologist, university teacher, and politician, Professor Juraj Švec, who was the Comenius University Rector from 1991 to 1997, died at the age of 79. The Comenius University academic community gathered to farewell him.  

Comenius University Rector, Professor Karol Mičieta, spoke to the solemn gathering and emphasized Professor Švec’s work for the university: “As we are approaching our centenary as Slovakia’s national university, and with a strong presence in the international environment, we have to remember that this is also because of the work of Professor Juraj Švec, who in the years following the revolution led our university so that it would navigate all its creative and talented students to the heights of education, research, and science as well as humanism, cultural character, and ethics.” At the end of his speech, the rector said: “Alas, a special person and significant educational, scientific, and managerial figure, who will always be connected with the name and activity of our university, and who has left a mark on the map of Slovak education and science, is going to the academic heavens.”

The dean of Comenius University’s Faculty of Medicine, Professor Juraj Šteňo, described the expert medical activity of Professor Švec and did not forget to mention his strong character: “The things which Professor Juraj Švec achieved would be enough to fill a number of lives. He undertook his profession with brilliance, elegance, and an ease of the sort we see in elite artists and sportspeople. For this level of performance, it is not enough to just have talent, good conditions, and favourable life circumstances. It always requires an enormous amount of effort. Professor Švec always gave the impression he was powered by solar engines; vitality flowed from him and into the surrounding environment. And thus we at the Faculty of Medicine will remember Professor Švec with much fondness.”

Doctor Pavol Demeš, a member of Comenius University’s Administrative Council and a friend of the deceased, said: “Should a filmed profile ever be made of Juraj Švec, it will not be necessary to compose a soundtrack. In the background, Gaudeamus Igitur (So Let Us Rejoice) could quietly play. This melody fitted him perfectly in its tones, atmosphere, and pathos. When Juraj walked in this beautiful auditorium in the red rector’s robes in those post-revolutionary years from 1991 to 1997, we all had the feeling that we were following a true academic, who proudly carried the centuries-old baton of learning and humanism and who would invite us with a relaxed smile to join him on this journey.” In conclusion, Demeš added: “Thus into eternity there goes a man, a magnificence, with a large number of citations in our hearts. His life and work have my greatest admiration.”

Professor Juraj Švec came from the family of a university teacher. He successfully completed high school in 1955 in Bratislava. After completing his studies in medicine in June 1961 at Comenius University’s Faculty of Medicine in Bratislava, Švec started working at the TBC Sanatorium in Vyšné Hágy as a resident physician. In January 1963 he was employed as an assistant, and later as an assistant professor, at the Department of Radiology at the Institute for the Continuing Education of Doctors and Pharmacists in Bratislava. It was there that he wrote his first clinical studies, which focused on the radioisotopic diagnosis of urological complications in gynaecological oncology. In 1970 he began working as an assistant at the Department of Oncology, Radiology, and Nuclear Medicine at Comenius University’s Faculty of Medicine, where he habilitated as an Associate Professor in the discipline of oncology. After successfully defending his dissertation in 1983, he became a Doctor of Medical Sciences. From September 1986 he worked as the head of the Department of Oncology, Radiology, and Nuclear Medicine at Comenius University’s Faculty of Medicine. He held this position until 1990, when he was appointed the head of the faculty’s Oncological Institute. In April 1987 he was made a Professor of Oncology by the Czechoslovak president. From 1998 to 2004 he was the head of the Oncological Clinic at Comenius University’s Faculty of Medicine. In addition to his work in teaching and research, Švec held a number of academic offices. From 1991 to 1997 he was Comenius University’s rector.

Švec’s scientific and research work focused on clinical and experimental oncology, and specifically the problem of carcinomas in the breast gland. He received important results and exceptional scientific recognition abroad for his research into the process of tumour formation and the role of hormones, chemical substances, and the genetic properties of cells in this process.

His professional career was significantly helped by study stays at oncological centres abroad; he was hosted by Professor Wacker in Frankfurt am Main, Professor Mühlbock at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and elsewhere. Comenius University was able to re-join the network of the most important tertiary institutions in Europe during Švec’s time as the university’s rector.

Švec received a number of awards, including the Pope John Paul II Gold Medal for his services to the study of theology in Slovakia, the Council of Europe Gold Medal, and gold medals from a number of European universities.