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President of Czech Republic to speak at university in April

Published: February 19, 2013, 3:50 pm ET
Collegian Staff

President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, will come to the University of Richmond in April to speak as part of Jepson’s John Marshall International Center for the Study of Statesmanship Lecture Series.

Klaus is an economist and has served various roles in the Czech Republic’s government since its Velvet Revolution in 1989. The revolution marked the country’s end to communist rule and its transition to democracy.

Formerly, as federal minister of finance, Klaus was involved in the financial aspects of this transition, Jepson Dean Sandra Peart said. “He can talk about his experience running this country,” she said, “but tie it into the themes that economists would know.”

Gary McDowell, co-director of the Marshall Center, said: “The Czech Republic is legendary for its role in the breakdown of communism and the restoration of freedom in the European states. His ability to have navigated those waters makes him worthy of hearing.”

Peart arranged the head of state’s visit by sending an invitation to someone in his offices, she said. Klaus’ term will end in March, which is why he can come in April, Peart said.

The Marshall Center staff has held a lecture series each year in its five-year existence, said Terry Price, co-director of the Marshall Center. This year’s series has hosted five speakers already.

Klaus will be the final lecturer this year, and his talk will also serve as the keynote address for a conference on Friedrich Hayek, also hosted by the Marshall Center, McDowell said.

Hayek was a 20th century, British free-market economist whose principles have become relevant again in light of the American financial crisis, Peart said. Klaus’ talk is titled Hayek and Today’s World.

McDowell said the Marshall Center had wanted a speaker who was a political practitioner who took Hayek seriously.

“The school is committed to understanding leadership in all contexts,” Price said. And it is important to Price to see ideas in practice, he said. “Academics talk mainly about ideas, but here we have a practitioner who can talk about the role of ideas in important areas of everyday life,” he said.

Peart said: “We would be remiss if we just studied leadership in the context of the United States. Leadership isn’t just the great figures who’ve led, but it’s also the situations in which they’ve led.”

McDowell is looking forward to Klaus’ engagement with the audience, he said, which McDowell, Price and Peart anticipated would comprise students and faculty from all disciplines, they said.

Anyone who has an interest in world public affairs, McDowell said, is going to want to hear a world leader speak about the importance of certain ideas and how he was involved in certain historic moments.

Klaus will speak at 5:30 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall on April 12. The event is free and open to the public, but online registration is required. Visit for more information and for the link to register for the event.

Contact staff writer Maggie Burch at

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