Washington DC – Several hundred people attended the dedication ceremony held in Kolozsvár (Cluj) on June 7, 2003, of the newly restored building that will serve as the Kolozsvár campus of Sapientia –Hungarian University of Transylvania. As part of the opening ceremony,László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, and Hungarian American Coalition Executive Committee member, unveiled the marble plaque listing major Hungarian American donors to the Sapientia University. Coalition members listed include The Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, Minnesota Hungarians, Edith and John Lauer, Beáta and Andor Nas, Judit and László Papp, and Gyula Várallyay. Edith and John Lauerattended the dedication ceremony in Kolozsvár.
University President, Sándor Tonk, stressed the significance of a Hungarian language university as the center for research, intellectual and leadership development for the 1.5 million-strong historic Hungarian community of Romania. Since its inception in 2000, Sapientia has established four campuses – in Nagyvárad (Oradea), ran today as a separate institution known as the Partium Christian University, Kolozsvár (Cluj), Marosvásárhely (Tirgu Mures), andCsíkszereda (Miercurea-Ciuc) Presently Sapientia has 1600 students and 300 professors, with ten departments in the following subjects: Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Industrial IT and Automation, Information Technology, Mechatronics, Social Work/Education, Regional Development and European Integration, Accounting/Computer Science, Agricultural Economics, Romanian Language and Literature/English Language and Literature.
Speakers at the dedication included bishops of the four traditional Hungarian denominations in Romania – Reformed, Catholic, Unitarian and Evangelist – with each blessing the new building. József Bálint-Pataki, President of the Office of Hungarians Abroad, brought the greetings and promise for continued financial support for the University from Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy.
The large crowd greeted Former Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán enthusiastically, as it was his government that provided both the impetus and the necessary funding to establish the Sapientia University as a private institution in 2000. In his speech Mr. Orbán stressed his commitment to Sapientia University should not be considered as financial contribution, but as an important investment in the future of Hungarians in Romania that will benefit both Romania and Hungary.
The city of Kolozsvár, where the Hungarian language state-run Bólyai University was established in 1945, has a rich 400-year history as the center of Hungarian higher education in Transylvania. In 1959 under the direction of then-Party Secretary Nicolae Ceausescu the communist government ordered the merging of the Bólyai with the Romanian-language BabesUniversity. This action was designed to speed up the assimilation of Hungarians by denying them the right to native-language education and leadership development. Since 1989 Hungarian political and religious leaders have unanimously urged the Romanian government to reestablish a publicly supported Hungarian-language university. To date, however, the Romanian government has been unwilling to establish such an institution.
Based on a year-long successful fundraising campaign, HHRF has provided a total of $72,000 to the Sapientia University, in support of a wide range of academic activities, purchase of equipment, scholarships and professorships, and library development. To date 400 Hungarian Americans such as Kolozsvár-born Prof. Zoltán Óváry, along with several anonymous donors have participated in this very successful campaign.
The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.