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Vanguard: News from the College of Human Environmental Sciences

An International Honor: HES Dean Receives Honorary Doctorate in Czech Republic

Story by Sheena Rice, Mizzou News

June 6, 2018 was a special day for College of Human Environmental Sciences Dean Sandy Rikoon. On this day Rikoon was in the Czech Republic to receive the 26th honorary doctoral degree awarded by the University of South Bohemia. His was the first honorary degree conferred through its College of Economics.

Rikoon has worked in the Czech Republic since his appointment in 1993 to a National Academy of Sciences team studying environment and health in the country.

"The researchers and faculty in the Czech Republic are gifted scholars with an exceptional history," Rikoon said. "I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with them for an extended period. I have the highest respect for their educational system and this honorary doctorate is more than I could have ever imagined."

Rikoon and his Czech colleagues have published a book and a dozen articles together, received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and Czech government and have hosted students and faculty in both Missouri and the Czech Republic.

The public ceremony—which included portions in Latin, Czech and English—was held in the council chambers of the historic radnice (town hall) of Ceske Budejovice, the university’s home about 100 miles south of Prague.  Built between 1727 and 1730, the baroque structure has four rooftop statues meant to symbolize the four virtues of the town's citizenry: fairness, wisdom, prudence and bravery.

Numerous traditions marked the event, including the attendance of the chancellors or vice chancellors from all other major Czech universities. A choral ensemble sang selections of 17th and 18th century music and three important scepters from the town and university were used to mark the rich traditions of Czech academe.

Rikoon’s nomination was championed by the current university leader, Tomáš Machula, and the previous chancellor, Libor Grubhoffer, and was submitted by Professor Mila Lapka and Dean Ladislav Rolínek from the College of Economics.

During his presentation, Lapka stressed Rikoon’s background as a "world-renowned expert in the fields of rural sociology, environmental sociology and the social and economic problems of regional development."

Machula highlighted his publications and grant record. "What cannot be found in this testimony is his humanity, willingness to help and real interest in our country, Ceske Budejovice, and our university," Machula said. "We appreciate his exceptional 25-year relationship to our country, to the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and to the University of South Bohemia."

Dean Rikoon receiving his Doktora Honoris Causa (honorary doctorate parchment) from University Chancellor Tomáš Machula.

Dean Rikoon presented Mizzou flag to Vice-Chancellor Tomáš Polívka and Professor Miloslav Lapka

(Left to right) Professor Karel Skalický, emeritus professor of theology, conducted the Latin portions of ceremony; Dean Sandy Rikoon; Professor Tomáš Machula, Chancellor; and Professor Miloslav Lapka, Vice-Dean for Research, College of Economics Professor Tomáš Polívka, Vice-Chancellor for Research of the University.

The large white and grey building on the left is the historic radnice (town hall) of Ceske Budejovice, where the ceremony took place. This is the early 18th century baroque city hall of the university’s home town and is about 100 miles south of Prague.