A message from Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of The Central European University (CEU).
This weekend the CEU Board of Trustees took one of the most difficult decisions a university could be asked to make: all incoming students for CEU’s U.S.-accredited masters and doctoral programs will study at our new Vienna campus in academic year 2019-20. The Trustees have authorized this move – following extensive deliberation – because the Hungarian government has not concluded an agreement allowing CEU to operate in freedom in Hungary as a U.S. institution chartered in New York State.
The decision, which takes effect December 1, 2018, also comes amidst a broader crackdown on academic freedom in Hungary, including a state overhaul of research institutes, a government ban on gender studies programs, the forced suspension of research related to migration, and punitive tax measures.
This is both a moment of great sadness and significant opportunity for CEU. While we regret that all attempts to find a solution that would enable CEU to remain as a U.S. degree-granting institution in Budapest have failed, CEU remains committed to Budapest and will continue to enhance the intellectual and cultural life of the city we have called home for nearly thirty years.
CEU has received a warm welcome from both the City of Vienna and the Government of Austria for which we are deeply grateful. We look forward to offering students from more than 90 countries the opportunity to study in another great Central European capital.
This move signals CEU’s return to its original vision of multiple campuses. By expanding our footprint to Vienna, CEU will become an even more global institution, providing tomorrow’s aspiring leaders from around the world with new opportunities to test the knowledge they acquire.
Students joining us in Vienna – like our changemaking alumni, whose ranks include ambassadors, parliamentarians, and academic, non-profit, and business leaders – will come to CEU driven by passion for a better tomorrow and leave equipped with the tools to make a difference that only a formidable graduate education can provide.
Meanwhile, we will maintain as much research and educational activity in Hungary as possible. Planning for the respective Vienna and Budapest campuses, and decisions on locations for faculty and staff, will be made in consultation with the CEU community, whose resilience and solidarity we commend with the highest regard.
We are also grateful to Ambassador David Cornstein for his exceptional efforts to defend CEU, and we thank the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Congress, the Office of the Governor of the State of New York, and the New York State Education Department for their best efforts.
We especially thank you and the tens of thousands of supporters from around the world who continue to champion our cause. As you can imagine, relocating the majority of our programs will be an enormous undertaking. We will continue to keep you informed about our plans. If you have questions or thoughts to share, we invite you to reply to this message. If you wish to make a gift in support of CEU and academic freedom, please click here.
Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector
Leon Botstein, Chair, CEU Board of Trustees