On 17 October, the Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Faculty of Informatics (IF) hosted a solemn ceremony of awarding the Dr. Juozas P. Kazickas Auditorium. From now on, the 101 Auditorium of the Faculty of Informatics will be called Dr. Juozas P. Kazickas Auditorium. According to the organizers of the event, this name is a testimony to the lasting legacy of Dr. Juozas Kazickas and his vast influence on the academic community and beyond.
According to one of the organizers of the event, Romas Šleževičius, Head of Administration of the Faculty of Informatics at KTU, the idea of naming one of the lecture halls after Dr. J.P. Kazickas came to the attention of Nijole Lenkevičienė, a long-standing and now former employee of the Faculty.
“We could not do it right away, because according to the University’s procedure for commemorating eminent people, it can be done inside the University buildings not earlier than three years after their death, and outside the buildings not earlier than ten years after their death. So, we just had to wait,” says Šleževičius. This year, after learning about the upcoming visit of Dr. J.P. Kazickas’ family to Lithuania, work began and, with the unanimous approval of the University’s Heritage Council, the auditorium was named after Dr. J.P. Kazickas.
The ceremony of announcing the name of the audience was attended by members of the family of Juozas Kazickas – Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Lucy Kazickas, representative of the Kazickas Family Foundation Agnė Vertelkaitė, project manager of the Kazickas Family Foundation Domantė Greifenbergerytė, Rector of the Kaunas University of Technology prof. Eugenijus Valatka, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics dr. Rita Butkienė and other representatives of the University and the Faculty – Audronė Veilentienė, Head of the KTU Museum, Jogilė Jagelavičiūtė, representative of the KTU National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, Kristina Skučienė, Director of the KTU Department of Student Affairs, prof. Aleksandras Targamadze, former Dean of the Faculty, Jonas Blonskis, Emeritus, who previously coordinated the Dr. J. P. Kazickas Programming Competition, and Giedrius Ziberkas, who is the current curator.
According to the Head of Faculty Administration, the organizers of the event had been cautioned that Mr. Joseph speaks only English. “You can imagine how surprised and delighted we all were when Mr. Joseph greeted us and started his speech in the Lithuanian language”, said Vida Drąsutė, Development Cooperation Coordinator at the Faculty of Informatics. Dr. J. Kazickas’ son Joseph Mindaugas Kazickas shared stories from his father’s life in America, when famous Lithuanian people used to gather at their family home and dream about the future of an independent Lithuania and the expectations that eventually turned into reality. cautioned
The Rector of KTU, prof. Eugenijus Valatka, thanked all the participants and he recalled the importance of Dr. J. P. Kazickas’ work for the whole of Lithuania and the KTU community. He shared his memories of his meetings with the doctor himself.
Dr. Rita Butkiene, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics, reminded the participants of the Kazickas Family Foundation’s long-term cooperation with KTU IF and the annual programming competition, in which students from all over Lithuania actively participate. In her speech, the Dean expressed her pleasure that the spirit of Dr. J. P. Kazickas lives on through the Foundation’s activities, touching the lives of many people. Over the years, the Foundation has supported more than a hundred charitable initiatives, ranging from equipping schools with essential technological tools to preserving important architectural treasures.
“KTU Faculty of Informatics has been organizing the Dr. J. P. Kazickas IT competitions and forums for students since 1998. More than 400 students from all over Lithuania participate in these events every year. This year, the 25th-anniversary Informatics Forum was held, where talented young IT enthusiasts from schools all over Lithuania took part and competed in competitions in programming, IT application, multimedia, and software development. We sincerely hope to continue this close cooperation, fostering Dr. Kazickas’ ideas – to encourage students to take an interest in computer science and to develop their skills and knowledge in this field,” said the Dean in her speech.
Dr. Juozas Petras Kazickas (1918-2014; United States of America) was a Doctor of Science, a prominent public figure and philanthropist, the founder of the Kazickas Family Charitable Foundation, and a major contributor to the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and the strengthening of the country’s statehood.
In 1990, thanks to his efforts, Mr Kazickas engaged former US President Jimmy Carter in direct talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The result of these negotiations was a favorable decision by the government of President George H. Bush to recognize Lithuania’s independence.
Dr. Kazickas was responsible for the international recognition of Lithuania’s independence, visits of its leaders and members of the government, and meetings with leading political personalities, journalists, and editors of major daily newspapers in the USA and Western Europe, and he was a consultant to the Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, President Algirdas Brazauskas, Lithuanian prime ministers, and to the International Commission on the Baltic States. Thanks to his efforts and those of his colleagues, a satellite earth station was launched in Vilnius, thus ensuring direct telephone communication with the whole world.
In 1998, dr. Juozas Petras Kazickas was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of KTU. During that year, the first scholarship and grant agreement was signed between the University and the Honorary Doctor (later the Juozas Petras Kazickas Family Foundation). The Kazickas Family Foundation not only provides scholarships to KTU students and grants to lecturers but also supports gifted students.