Caring for the education of our youth has always been part of the cultural tradition of our people. One of the starting points of that tradition was the founding of Sremski Karlovci High School, which I attended for eight years. As a high-school student, I was very proud of that tradition. I remember the story that my homeroom teacher, Teodora (Majica) Petrović told us during one of the Serbian classes. It was about Dositej Obradović visiting European courts in order to collect money for the education of Serbian youth. Once, Mrs Petrović quoted one of Dositej`s sayings: “Ask for education in spite of being thirsty, hungry and naked.” Today we would say that the honorable Dositej exaggerated a bit in stressing this, but I believe that he did it on purpose in order to move to action both the people and the benefactors. As far as the latter are concerned, according to my experience from Chicago, to motivate sponsors is not an easy task even nowadays.
I believe that my motivation to help Yugoslav students to carry on with their educational training on the graduate level in America is similar to the motivation that guided Archbishop Stratimirović and Dimitrije Sabov on the occasion of founding Karlovci High School. This comparison, of course, is not adequate, but what I want to say is that our people had many wonderful examples in their past to look up to, which can inspire us in the present time.
The recognition that the University of Novi Sad has shown me by giving me an honorary doctoral title is the greatest and dearest award in my academic career so far. It is dearest, because I see that my enthusiasm for helping Yugoslav students has been recognized in the top University Forum in Novi Sad. That is an indicator for me that my commitment to students is the same as that of the professors in Novi Sad and that all of us, from both sides of the Atlantic, are a big academic family with the same academic mission. The University of Novi Sad has many reasons to be proud of the extraordinary quality of its students. On my behalf, I feel proud to see that the academic youth from Yugoslavia can compete with the best in the world and that they have the ambition to create events in their professions and not just to follow them.