Chairman's Statement II -- Success
HPS Department, Eotvos University, Budapest

15 April 2005  

This is a sequel to my first Chairman's Statement of April 7. and
closes the issue of dismissal of HPS Department in Budapest. Readers
unfamiliar with the case may wish to read the other statement first.

The Department survived! After a unanimous (33:0) University Council
decision that gave the Faculty of Science 48 hours to find the resources
for our salary, we are back.  Yet, at that point my earlier remark "vote
is not money" was more timely than ever. Let me re-emphasize that the
salaries challenge was not the result of the Department's own weakness,
but rather the outcome of an apparently too fast decision about where to cut
back in a moment of general budget problems university-wise. We have
enough students to cover all our salaries -- and more! -- by serviced

The problem was that our salaries were on the savings list by now. In other
words, our dismissal was, from a financial point of view, a finished fact:
we received official notification about it more than a week ago. Needless
to say, in this phase, keeping any of us means firing other people for us.
A very adverse situation, and source of much conflict.

All Council decisions (altogether five, three at the Faculty, and two at the
University level) have been supporting the Department, yet it could have
happened that we are released or severely cut back despite an over-the-
average number of students and despite other excellent income-raising
parameters. In a very hard process of local negotiations, and especially,
with the help of a few selected decision-makers, it was possible to put
together the money by sensitive other cutbacks (of non-teaching personnel)
to finance the essential part of our Department. In a final and most
dramatic round where nothing than money had any importance any more, hard
cash was squeezed off of people with opposing interest and financial
difficulties themselves. We are deeply indebted to those who have done
this wonderful work at the Faculty level -- which could not have been
possible without the powerful prior support of the external community, in
turn. Now the money is there! (The 48 hours was needed, and slightly

We are left six people, and effectively laid off one person only. (We did
three, but two of them will continue their service teaching at other
Faculties, from where the majority of their students came anyway.)

This is a fairy tale of earthly resurrection, I should say. The success is the
work of several people. Various pressures, offers, understandable and less
understandable difficulties did not distract them (or me) from continuing
the fight. Luck is always an element of success, but the main factors, I guess,
were external support, students votes, persistence, and powerful local
supporters, especially in the end phase. Let me mention one person by
name, Balazs Gyenis, PhD student at Pittsburgh, a former student of our
Department, who volunteered to organize the international as well as
Hungarian petitions (see our home page and has been
very instrumental with the students' organizations as well. Thank you Balazs!

This closes the case as for now. Recently we keep hearing about several
similar cases. One common factor worth of general attention is that money and
local politics often interferes with student interests and scientific
excellence in lack of a reliable task analysis and quality assessment
system in higher education, the establishment of which would be urgently
needed at least in Hungary, and perhaps at other places as well.

Thank you all for your help! Joint international (and Hungarian) forces
could reverse a seemingly hopeless case -- we are extremely grateful
to our supporterts.

George Kampis,
Chairman of HPS Department
Director of BSCS