NEW YORK Chapter of SVU was established on March 26, 1960 as the third local chapter of the Society, right after Washington D.C. and Chicago chapters. The first president of the New York Chapter of SVU was Dr. John Lexa, and the first secretary was Milan Vojtek.
We promote Czech and Slovak intellectual history through lectures, readings, screenings, and publications.
WHAT IS SVU
The acronym SVU in Czech and Slovak languages stands for Spolecnost pro vedy a umeni, a Society of Arts and Sciences. Since its inception in 1958 by Czech and Slovak emigre academics, the SVU has grown into a respected international member organization with chapters around the world. After the peaceful 1989 Velvet Revolution, it has expanded its activities to Czechoslovakia and its succession states, the Czech and the Slovak Republics.
The SVU is an international cultural organization dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, free dissemination of ideas and the fostering of contacts among scholars, scientists, artists, writers, students and other professionals throughout the world who have an interest in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, their history, peoples and their cultural and intellectual contributions.
The SVU was officially organized in 1958, at the initiative of Czech and / Slovak intellectuals living abroad, at a time when the communist regime in Czechoslovakia had repudiated the country’s historical traditions and suppressed free expression. The SVU wanted to provide a forum for the free development of Czechoslovak culture in exile and make the world aware of the Czech and Slovak cultural traditions and contributions, which date back more than a millennium.
Its activities, as outlined in the original bylaws, consisted of supporting and coordinating the educational, scholarly, literary and artistic endeavors of the Czechoslovak intelligentsia abroad. However, the Society was subsequently broadened into an organization open to all individuals, regardless of ethnic origin, interested in fostering Czech Slovak and/or Slovak culture.
Following the end of the communist regime in 1989, the SVU’s functions greatly expanded. Now, in addition to its original mission, the SVU has become a bridge between Czech and Slovak professionals and those in other countries. It allows scholars abroad to benefit from contact with their Czech and Slovak colleagues, as well as helping to reintegrate the intellectual life of these two nations into the main stream of world science, arts and letters, from which they were separated for so long by political barriers.
Since the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the Society has been instrumental in assisting the fledgling democracies in reestablishing the normal functions of a free society, through material assistance, lectures, seminars, and workshops, and most of all, through the personal expertise and experience of its members.
The SVU is interested in encouraging young people, whether they are Czech and Slovak students who want to enhance their educational opportunities abroad, or North American students or those of other nationalities who wish to make Czech and / or Slovak culture the focus of their professional careers.