On 17 September 2021, Rector Prof. Michał Zasada presided over the long-awaited ceremony of awarding the Honorary Doctorate to Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University and decorating the SGGW employees with state awards. The Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, Minister Adam Kwiatkowski granted the awards for outstanding research and teaching achievements and exemplary and particularly conscientious fulfilment of professional duties. Due to the pandemic situation, these events could not be held this year in May, the month in which they are traditionally organised every year.
The highest academic honour, the Honorary Doctorate of the SGGW, or the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, was conferred on Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz, naturalist, expert in animal breeding and husbandry, economist, agricultural advisor and organiser of social and economic life. A descendant of Polish emigrants, great advocate of the development of Polish-American relations and promoter of Polish culture in the United States. Full biography of Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz.
The Honorary Doctorate of the SGGW was conferred by the Academic Senate at the motion of the Council of the Discipline of Agriculture and Horticulture by resolution of 27 April 2020 and was awarded for:
- creative contribution to building friendly Polish-American relations;
- outstanding achievements in the implementation of innovative technologies in agriculture; and
- many years of work to organise bilateral exchanges of Polish and American farmers.
The supervisor in the proceedings was Prof. Zdzisław Wyszyński, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Biology in 2016–2019 and Director of the Institute of Agriculture at the SGGW in 2019–2020. The reviewers were Prof. Ewa Spychaj-Fabisiak of the Faculty of Agriculture and Biotechnology at the Bydgoszcz University of Science and Technology and Prof. Grzegorz Skrzypczak of the Faculty of Agriculture and Bioengineering at the Poznań University of Life Sciences, Rector of the Poznań University of Life Sciences in 2008–2016.
The ceremony was attended by many distinguished guests from Poland and the United States, including professor’s family, wife Katarzyna Mazurkiewicz, son James and daughter Stefania, as well as the closest associates Katarzyna Boczek and Jennifer Martinez and representatives of the Polish Association of Cereal Plant Producers. Honorary guests were Dr. Patrick Stover, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M AgriLife and Director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, with his wife Dr. Denise Stover. The event gathered such prominent personalities as Jolanta Figurska, representative of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw; MP Krzysztof Ardanowski, Chairperson of the Agriculture and Rural Areas Council to the President of the Republic of Poland; Prof. Alojzy Szymański and Prof. Wiesław Bielawski, former Rectors of the SGGW; Prof. Alojzy Nowak, Rector of the University of Warsaw; Prof. Piotr Wachowiak, Rector of the Warsaw School of Economics; Prof. Zbigniew Gaciong, Rector of the Medical University of Warsaw; Prof. Barbara Marcinkowska, Rector of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw; Prof. Adam Woźniak, Vice Rector of the Warsaw University of Technology; Prof. Ida Wiszomirska, Vice Rector of the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw; Prof. Monika Szyłkowska, Vice Rector of the Jarosław Dąbrowski Military University of Technology in Warsaw; Prof. Piotr Goliński, Vice Rector of the Poznań University of Life Sciences; Prof. Jarosław Gryz, Vice Rector of the Academy of Military Art in Warsaw; Prof. Marek Gugała, Dean of the Faculty of Agrobioengineering and Animal Sciences at the University of Natural Sciences and Humanities in Siedlce; Prof. Andrzej Chwalibog and Prof. Czesław Waszkiewicz, Honorary Doctors of the SGGW, members of the SGGW University Council headed by its chairperson Prof. Maciej Skorupski; and Prof. Leszek Żukowski, President of the World Association of Home Army Soldiers in 2013–2020.
Opening the ceremony, SGGW Rector Prof. Michał Zasada recalled the tradition of the SGGW Days organised every year in May to commemorate the first post-war inauguration of the academic year, which took place in Warsaw at the SGGW and became a symbol of the return to normal life.
“Today’s ceremony is a kind of symbol as well,” emphasised the Rector. “It is a sign that after more than a year of fighting an invisible but very dangerous enemy, we can think about returning to the realities we remember from before the outbreak of the pandemic. We are meeting after over a year of isolation, remote learning and working and restrictions on everyday life; after a period of increased fear for our own and our loved ones’ health and lives, after a period overshadowed by the uncertainty of tomorrow and global instability. Let this symbolic return to everyday university activities also be a return to the momentous academic tradition which we are having today by awarding the honorary doctorate of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences to Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz.”
The Rector congratulated the new Honorary Doctor and also wished him all the best on the occasion of his birthday which fell on 17 September. In addition, he appreciated the state award holders, stressing that the harmonious development, growing prestige and position of the SGGW was the effect of their work and commitment too. “Such events as today’s show that the greatness of any institution is built not only by its representatives, but also by the group of colleagues and friends who contribute to its prosperity,” stressed the Rector.
The laudation speech on the occasion of conferring the title to Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz was delivered by the supervisor, Prof. Zdzisław Wyszyński, who emphasised the complete dedication of the Honorary Doctor to supporting and developing the bilateral cooperation between Poland and the United States, especially the State of Texas.
“It is a great honour and privilege for me to serve as a supervisor and to deliver the laudation speech in honour of Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz, an outstandingly active member of the Polish community in Texas, a person exceptionally committed to professional, scientific and cultural exchange between Texas and our country. (…) His activities build and unite; they provide perspectives for broader cooperation of this community with Polish centres today and for future young generations whose awareness of Polish roots is enhanced and built through participation in projects supported by him,” said Prof. Zdzisław Wyszyński.
In his acceptance speech, Honorary Doctor Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz presented the history of the birth of the Agriculture Extension programme in Texas and outlined its development in the United States. The programme provides agricultural practitioners with research results. It ensures continuing education in the areas of agriculture, environmental management, youth and adult life skills, human capital and leadership as well as community and economic development, becoming a channel for continuing education for the public. As he emphasised, “our sector needs passionate leaders who will help to develop an understanding of consumer needs, think outside the box and impact countless agri-food customers. Our passion for research and teaching is the light that will help to set the path for agriculture now and in the future.”
Thanking for the distinction, Prof. Dr. Jimmy Mazurkiewicz said, “I feel honoured and proud to receive the Honorary Doctorate of the SGGW. I will always keep the memory of this day with pride and humility, letting it serve as a testimony to the value of relations and exchange of information which contribute to a better world by acting with commitment and passion.”
“I am a Pole, a faithful great-grandson of my homeland. There is only one Polish community and by working together we have a stronger voice and a wider reach. This is the essence of my passion.”
The culmination of the celebrations was an open-air concert of the Promni Folk Artistic Ensemble and the SGGW Orchestra as well as a performance by the SQER Dance group.