Sopron Forestry School - University of British Columbia 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Vancouvert, June 14-16, 2007

Honorable Minister, Mr. Deputy Minister, Mr. Chancellor, Your Excellency, Mr. President, Mr. Dean, Dear Sopron Alumni, Ladies and Gentlemen!


We have gathered here today from several corners of the World for remembrance and celebration. To celebrate an anniversary and to remember all the participants of an historic event 50 years ago, that led to the establishment of the Sopron Division of the Faculty of Forestry of the University of British Columbia.


It is an honor and pleasure for me to be among you and to bring you the heartfelt greetings of the professors, students of the University of West Hungary in Sopron, and, indeed, the entire Hungarian community of foresters. I do this on behalf of Dean ANDRÁS NÁHLIK, of the Faculty of Forestry, Dean SÁNDOR MOLNÁR of the Faculty of Wood Sciences of the University of West Hungary and Dr. JÓZSEF PETHŐ, President of the SOCIETY OF HUNGARIAN FORESTERS, who are all present here today.


Honored Guests!

On October 23, 1956 Hungary has experienced one of the most glorious days of her long history, following which freedom shone brightly in our country for 12 days. Many, who helped this to happen in our town of Sopron sit in front of us today. The UWH is proud that their deed has left an indelible imprint on the pages of history of Sopron and of Hungary. On November 4, 1956 Soviet tanks ended those glorious days of freedom for a very long time and 200 000 Hungarians, among them students and professors of our school chose to seek freedom abroad.

The uncertainties of refugee life are put to rest only if and when opportunities for a promising future appear. Such a miracle happened in a very short time for our exiled countrymen, when Canada opened its doors and offered a new home in which to settle. For this magnificent gesture I salute Canada and declare my everlasting personal gratitude.


Many thanks and appreciations are due to

• the CANADIAN GOVERNMENT, especially Honorable JACK PICKERSGILL, minister of Immigration, and Honorable JAMES SINCLAIR, minister of Fisheries

• the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, especially DR. NORMAN MACKENZIE, president, and DR, GEORGE ALLEN, dean of the Faculty of Forestry

• Mr. HAROLD FOLEY, president of the Powell River Company

• and last but not least the PEOPLE OF CANADA

for adopting the 200 forest engineering students and their professors, and making it possible for them to continue their education.


We must also remember the person that acted as the bond that held the group together and acted as guide to lead them to safe haven, Dean KÁLMÁN ROLLER, UBC’s Honorary Doctor, Distinguished Citzen. Without him we may not celebrate this anniversary today.


We must also remember the professors, who made most of the historical opportunity given and passed onto the five graduating classes their knowledge and experience, between 1957 and 1961. Unfortunately there are very few, who are still with us today. God bless them with long and healthy lives and God bless the memories of those that are gone.


We are very proud that the 141 graduate foresters as well as those who sought success in other fields have become, without exception, solid members of Canadian society both in their professions and personal lives, thus bringing honor to both our Universities and our countries. We remember in deep sorrow, those former students, who are no longer with us to take part in these celebrations.


With their contributions and dedications to their profession, the professors and students who came to UBC 50 years ago helped significantly to make the Hungarian forestry and Hungarian forestry education well known world-wide. Also, many of them retuned to Sopron as visiting professors after 1990 to pass on their knowledge and international experience to the Hungarian students. For this reason we have honored, in addition to Dean ROLLER, Professor LÁSZLÓ ADAMOVICH as Distinguished Citizen of UWH and as Honorary Doctors of UWH Professors OSZKÁR SZIKLAI, ANTAL KOZÁK, JÓZSEF BÓDIG, GÉZA IFJÚ, MIKLÓS GRÁTZER and JÁNOS BALATINECZ. Special salutes to them. In addition, many others have done a lot to enrich and to strengthen cooperation with our faculties. We are very grateful to them as well.


Honored Celebrities and Celebrants!

A special relationship has developed between the two universities, Faculty of Forestry of UBC and the former University of Forestry and Wood Industry in Sopron since November 4, 1990, when the Sopron University reinstated the students and professors who left Sopron in November 1956. One of the several results of this relationship is a joint English language Forest Engineering BSc. program which will start in the near future in Sopron, at the Faculty of Forestry of the University of West Hungary. I sincerely hope that cooperation will get stronger in time, building on the emotional tie that the Sopron Alumni have created between us.


Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my great pleasure that on behalf of the University of West-Hungary I can express our gratitude to the present leaders of the Faculty of Forestry, dean JACK SADDLER and several others, who worked very hard to make this 50th Anniversary Celebration a pleasant one. Among these others the most important ones are Ms. SANDRA SCHINNERL and SAMANTHA BERDEJ. I thank President TOOPE for his support of their work.


Lastly, we are very grateful for their invitation and for the fact that we can be present to celebrate this rather unique occasion. I wish good health and happiness in the daily lives of all our former students. For the leaders of the UBC and particularly those of the Faculty of Forestry, its professors and students a continuing success in all their efforts as appropriate for their own history.


Thank you for your attention!


Prof. Dr. Sándor Faragó DSc,