CEFT promotes the study of Czech language and culture in Texas institutions of higher learning through a variety of funded programs. Endowments have been set up at The University of Texas, Texas A&M University and the University of North Texas to continue Czech studies through classes, research, performances and student exchanges. Below is a short summary of each endowment and how it enriches the Texas Czech culture by providing opportunities to study the language, the arts and the history of the native Czech lands.
The University of Texas
Club Čechie was established at the university in 1909. In 1914, members of Čechie along with folks of Czech descent from UT and other universities petitioned the Texas Board of Regents to have the Czech language formally taught. In 1915, the Texas Legislature passed the Wagstaff Bill which established the program. Czech language classes have been taught at the university since 1915.
THE TEXAS CHAIR IN CZECH STUDIES
In 1991, the Texas Chair in Czech Studies was formally established at The University of Texas at Austin with the endowment set up by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas. The monies from this endowment support the Czech language classes, classes on Czech literature, and special research projects, many of which are historical in nature. One such special research project on Czech culture supported by CEFT and the UT endowment is the Texas Czech Legacy Project. This project aims to translate stories and conversations from elderly Texas Czechs and retain them for future generations. For more information on the project, visit our CEFT-TCLP page.
In 2015, CEFT and the College of Liberal Arts Center for Russian and East European and Eurasian Studies celebrated 100 years of teaching the Czech language at The University of Texas. For more details on the offerings at UT and some of the most recent projects, visit our CEFT-UT page.
Texas A&M University
TEXAS A&M AND THE CZECHS
Ties between Texas A&M and the Czech-American community of Texas were established early and remain strong today. The origins of the Texas Aggie Band can be traced back to the efforts of a Czech immigrant named Joseph Holick (Holik), who organized a cadet band on the A&M campus in the 1890s. Holick, a local cobbler, was also responsible for designing the famous boots worn by senior cadets. It is estimated that during his long career (he died in 1971 at the age of 103), his boot shop produced more than 30,000 Aggie boots. In 1905, judge Augustin Haidusek of La Grange, the first Czech-American to be elected to a state legislature and editor of the Czech-language newspaper Svoboda, was appointed to the Texas A&M College Board of Directors.
Most importantly, thousands of students with Czech surnames, from Adamek to Zvonek, have attended Texas A&M. In the early years especially, A&M's emphasis on agricultural studies drew students from the many rural communities settled by Czech immigrant groups.
Like Haidusek and Holick, a majority of these Texas Czechs were of Moravian heritage, with ancestral roots in towns and villages such as Frydek-Mistek, Frenstat, and Vsetin - all of which have given their names to rural Texas towns.
THE WILLIAM J. HLAVINKA FELLOWSHIP
For decades, the Iron Curtain stood as a barrier between Texas Czechs and their ancestral land. Since the recent, dramatic political changes in Central Europe new cultural and business ties have been developing between Texas and the Czech Republic--especially Moravia. Taking advantage of this new era of cooperation and mutual interest, CEFT has established the CEFT William J. Hlavinka Fellowship in 1999 at Texas A&M's College of Liberal Arts. This fellowship program is designed to make these ties even stronger and to benefit the Texas Czech community in many ways.
The Fellowship was made possible in large part by a major grant from the children of the late William J. Hlavinka, a East Bernard businessman and Texas A&M graduate who was active in his support of both A&M and Czech nationality organizations during his lifetime.
The CEFT Hlavinka Fellowship brings advanced graduate students from the two major Moravian universities -- Masaryk University in Brno and Palacky University in Olomouc -- to work toward an M.A. or Ph.D. degree in the Department of English at Texas A&M. In return, these advanced students teach Czech language lesssons which are open to both A&M students and members of the general public, and perform other services to the Texas Czech community on a regular basis including the translation of Czech letters and documents, consultation and participation in festivals and cultural programs such as genealogical and historical workshops, and assistance in preparation of museum exhibitions. For more information about Hlavinka Fellowship and Czech activities at Texas A&M, visit our CEFT-TAMU page.
The University of North Texas
Texas Czechs love their music and dancing. The College of Music at the University of North Texas is the largest and one of the most respected comprehensive schools of music in the United States, with more than 1,700 music students enrolled in its bachelor's, masters, and doctoral programs.
The UNT College of Music also hosts the university's longest running and most successful international relationship, which has been a multifaceted association with the Czech Republic. The College has sent its students abroad on numerous concert and cultural tours and has facilitated a vibrant exchange of students and faculty.
FRANK J. and HERMINE HURTA KOSTOHRYZ RESIDENCY and
DR. JIM J. and ROSE A. BEZDEK ENDOWMENT
In 2004, at the 50th anniversary of the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, CEFT entered into a formal relationship with the University of North Texas to provide substantial financial support of its Czech activities.
The UNT College of Music is home to the CEFT Frank J. and Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residency in Czech Music and Culture as well as the Dr. Jim J. and Rose A. Bezdek Endowment Celebrating Czech Music and Culture. The partnership between the University of North Texas and CEFT focuses on three activities:
- To bring distinguished Czech musicians, composers, artists, and educators to UNT for teaching, performing, and conducting research in Czech music and culture, and for purposes of outreach throughout the State of Texas, particularly to Texas-Czech centers of population;
- To stage colloquia and festivals of Czech music and culture; and
- To mount the production of Czech operas, emphasizing usage of the Czech language.
For more information about past perfomances and upcoming events, visit our CEFT-UNT page.