Dean Doulík, can you say approximately what a dean’s job description actually is?
It has two levels. The dean is, by law, the statutory representative of the faculty, which means that this concerns both legal and work-related areas: he concludes contracts, he is responsible for the management of the faculty, for the budget or for raising funds. The second level concerns representation of the faculty, that is, he participates in various events, their openings, etc. Concerning daily routines, this also has two sides. I continue to act as an academic staff member, which involves teaching, testing, publishing, and grant projects. The other side is bureaucratic, signing things fifty times a day, concluding agreements, contracts, hiring new staff, and resolving things from marginal matters related to the funding of the faculty, from the purchase of markers to the level of meetings with the rector’s office or the ministry and negotiating about the flow of money or investment. It is diverse, and one never completely knows what to expect each day.
Dean Pavel Doulík: “I am not a advocate of the view that
the level of students is decreasing year after year.”
How would you personally assess the level of current students?
I have behind me fifteen years of work in education which has been enriched by the fact that the whole time I have also been teaching at the Secondary School in Teplice. I have a spectrum of students from the age of 13 all the way to combined studies students with us where students may even be 60 years old. I am not an advocate of the view that the level of students is decreasing year after year. Though, of course they say it is. Each age group brings with it different knowledge. The truth is that like every other university we have been affected by the massive increase of higher learning and there are fields where the selectivity of candidates is very low. This means that we do not have much choice, and so a situation occurs where it works in a worse way. At the university I miss the chance of intensively influencing students. Only in high school can you have closer contact, but at the university it is somewhat more on a voluntary basis and one’s own commitment.
How would you assess the quality of what is called distance learning?
I should set the record straight regarding proper terminology. We are talking about combined studies, though it is commonly referred to by the public as “distance learning”. I think that it is not at all inferior, because I teach the combined studies and I admire these people because they also work and have families in addition to managing their studies. I am not convinced that they have it any easier. Concerning the scope of studies, though it is limited, self-study is again much more extensive. If we compare them to those in daily studies, the distance learning students have a greater interest in studying and in finishing their studies. I certainly do not consider them swindle students or inferior students.
What about Ústí as a student town? In comparison with other towns does it seem to you to be just as nice?
We must not dare to compare it with the big Anglo-Saxon university cities, nor has that tradition ever existed here. There is also a difference when in some place you have a university for 650 years, and in Ústí 25 years, for that penetration into the structure of the city, then of course that means there is a difference. I welcome the campus, where the university is concentrated in one place and people see that, yes, this is the university quarter. Ústí has a problem with finding its identity regarding what it has to offer and how it is structured. But I don’t think that Ústí couldn’t be a university town and that it is not moving in that direction. We can only hope that communication between the university and the city will improve, for example, even if we possibly never live to see a situation in which there are houses of red brick and university dormitories like at Oxford. But, on the other hand, when one forms a relationship with UJEP, one can also look for a relationship with Ústí nad Labem as such.
How would you assess the position of the Ústí Faculty of Education within the Czech Republic?
There are nine faculties of education within the Czech Republic, including one in Liberec, that are not completely educational faculties by name. From the point of view of structure, we are very specific in which departments we have here. We don’t have any departments of natural science, which is not common in our country. Large faculties of education have departments of natural science, whether we are talking about Prague, Brno, or Olomouc. We also don’t have even a portion of the humanities departments which are at the Faculty of Philosophy. Structurally we are most similar to the Faculty of Education in Ostrava. As deans of Czech and Slovak faculties of education, we meet regularly, at least twice a year, in association, and I think that there is quite a friendly atmosphere between the faculties of education, fair relations and dealings, and every faculty has an equal voice and position regardless of its size. Within the framework of the Ústí university, we have a better position because we are still the largest faculty and in comparison with other faculties in this country I don’t think we would ever be at the tail end. We consider ourselves a fully competent and highly valuable faculty.
Exactly how does a dean spend his free time?
I am not the type who always has to be doing something or going somewhere. I am completely happy in the quiet of my home. My free time is mostly filled to a certain extent by my two children. For example, I just spent the whole of last weekend on building something with Lego. Of course I do like sports a little. I play hockeyball and I am a stalwart fan of the Teplice Football Club. And then there is the thing I am probably most famous for, and that is my love of the series The Simpsons. So when I have a little time every evening I turn on Prima COOL and let off steam in the company of that series. I have various items with the motif of this family, from a webcam to collectible items and beer. Not long ago I read a statement that pupils should be required to watch the Simpsons because it really demonstrate how life is, though in an American way. I can agree with that. What’s more, the Czech dubbing is great, rarely can it be done so well, the dialogues are excellent.