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Professor Andrzej Pelczar dies at 73

It is with deepest regret that we inform that professor Andrzej Pelczar, an outstanding mathematician, the Rector of the Jagiellonian University in 1990-1993, died suddenly on May 8, 2010.

Professor Andrzej Pelczar was born on April 12, 1937 in Gdańsk, where his father, Marian Pelczar was exceptionally active in popularizing Polish culture in the 30s and during World War II. In 1954 Andrzej Pelczar enrolled in the Jagiellonian University and took up mathematics. In 1964 he received his PhD, in 1972 his habilitation and became a professor in 1980.

As a mathematician, he made an outstanding contribution to the theory of dynamical systems and differential calculus. Following professor Tadeusz Ważewski’s ideas, who was his mentor and master, professor Pelczar related some findings in the general theory of dynamical systems to partial differential equations. His other exceptional achievement was a systematic and highly original study of  the basics of stability theory in the context of general dynamical systems. He authored many academic handbooks, including a two volume monograph on differential equations, more than 80 academic books and numerous popular science studies.

Recently, he developed an interest in the history of mathematics and soon became an expert in the history of Polish mathematics since the 15th century. Thanks to his interest he brought back from oblivion Jan Brożek, an eminent scholar of the 15th century and wrote a well-documented monograph.

Professor Pelczar was the founder of the Kraków School of Dynamic Systems. His personal charisma, commitment to serious research and an exceptional teaching skill attracted many students who during his Friday seminars and his lectures studied the intricacies of dynamical systems. he gave his last lecture on May 14, 2010. Among many of his MA students and 14 PhD students (and, subsequently, their students) four full professors and two associate professors still consider the theory of dynamical systems as their major field of study. It is no wonder than that when in 1996 professor Pelczar organized a conference to honour the hundredth anniversary of professor Tadeusz Ważewski’s birthday it drew an international galaxy of specialists in dynamical systems, who wanted to meet the founder of  the Kraków School.

Professor Pelczar was an exceptionally gifted science and education manager. His university career he held many responsible offices, including that of the Jagiellonian University Rector (1990), the position he was chosen to in the first free university elections in post-communist Poland. He earned esteem and trust during the difficult years of the marshal law in Poland, when he held the position of the Head of the Institute of Mathematics (1981-84, 1987-1990) and of the Vice-rector for Students Affairs (1984-1987).

He was an active member of many scientific and academic societies and associations, including that of the Polish Society of Mathematics, where he held the position of a member of the board for more than thirty years and in 1987-1991 he was its chief executive officer.

He was one of the founders of the European Mathematical Society (EMS), which in a few recent years has been developing vigorously, thus becoming a match for the famous American Mathematical Society, the membership of which professor Pelczar maintained as well. In 1997-2000 he was the vice-president of the EMS and at his death he was a member of the EMS Council. It is thanks to his international standing, indefatigable efforts and personal commitment that in 2012 Kraków will host an EMS congress (held every four years) – in that capacity Kraków defeated Prague and Vienna. Professor Pelczar was the Chairman of the Congress Organizing Committee.

Professor Pelczar was a very active member of the Main Council of Higher Education. In 1993-1996 he was its Vice Chairman and in 1996-2000 its chairman.

He was also a full member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU) and recently acted as the Director of the Class III of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. He was also the Chair of the PAU Commission of History , the Chair of the Archive of Science of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU) and the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), as well as the Chair of the Council of the Copernicus Centre for Interdisciplinary Research.

On April 21, 2010, professor Pelczar received  the title of an honorary professor of the Jagiellonian University.

He was a good and righteous man. Despite his international renown and  outstanding achievements, he had never lost touch with reality, which happens only too often in similar circumstances. He was exceptionally open-minded and  ready to enter a dialog even with those who held different views. His interests were wide-ranging and his knowledge was comprehensive. He was an engrossing speaker with a sense of humor. Above all, however, he was exceptionally considerate to others and was ready to help in difficult, professional and personal matters. He died suddenly on May 18, 2010. Nothing will fill the void he has left. 


He lives in our memory.

The Holy Mass will be held at the Collegiate Church of St. Anne on Monday 24, 2010 at 12 noon. The burial ceremony will take place the same day at the Rakowice Cemetry in Kraków at 1.30 pm.

Jagiellonian University obituary
Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science obituary

A three-hour long interview with professor Pelczar. (in Polish)

Published Date: 18.05.2010
Published by: Leszek Śliwa
Uniwersytet Jagielloński