VMU Deeply Shaken by Loss of Prof. Leonidas Donskis


The community of VMU as well as the entire country have been deeply shaken by a great loss: we are mourning for Professor Leonidas Donskis, a respectable and beloved colleague, friend and academic, and one of the most prominent thinkers of Lithuania. Professor Donskis was a philosopher, political theorist, historian of ideas, social analyst, political commentator and defender of human rights and civil liberties. He was a professor of Political Science and Head of VMU Academia Cum Laude at Vytautas Magnus University.

The wake will take place at VMU Aula Magna (Gimnazijos g. 7, Kaunas). Farewell to the professor:

Friday 23 September, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 24 September, 9:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The urn’s burial will begin at 1 p.m. The burial ceremony will be held at the Petrašiūnai Cemetery in Kaunas.

Professor Donskis actively participated in various academic and public activities; he was involved in the most important social and cultural processes of Lithuania and Europe and wrote books on the most topical issues of today. He worked in the universities and research centres of the USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Italy; Bradford University in Great Britain (2011) and Valahia University of Târgovişte in Romania (2014) awarded Leonidas Donskis with an honorary doctorate. Professor Donskis authored 40 books and more than 500 articles for Lithuanian and foreign general and academic press. His Lithuanian and English works were translated into Portuguese, Danish, Estonian, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian and German languages.

The public knew Donskis as the author and the host of a Lithuanian TV program for political and cultural debate ‘Be pykčio’ as well as a defender of human rights and civil liberties. In 2004, the European Commission awarded Donskis with the title of the Ambassador for Tolerance and Diversity in Lithuania.

In recent years, the scholarly interests of Professor Donskis had been mainly focused on philosophy of history, philosophy of culture, philosophy of literature, philosophy of the social sciences, civilization theory, political theory, history of ideas, and studies in Central and East European thought. He contributed tremendously to the cultivation of political and philosophical thought both in Lithuania and the world. The most notable recent works of Professor Donskis include The Great Europe. An Essay on the Soul of Europe, The Search for Optimism in an Epoch of Pessimism: Eastern European Prophecies and Premonitions (with Tomas Venclova), Stories from the Age of Oblivion, The Little Europe: a Map of an Aesthete, Liquid Evil: Living with TINA, Moral Blindness: the Loss of Sensitivity in Liquid Modernity (with Zygmunt Bauman).

Donskis received the Cross of Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania for his continuous work in Lithuanian cultural and art sphere, his reflections in articles, essays and books on hot-button topics and works that made Lithuania famous both in Europe and the world. Professor Donskis had also been awarded the Orange-Nassau Order Commander’s Cross. In 2013, the Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Foundation and the Embassy of Finland awarded Professor Donskis the title of the Luminary for his role in strengthening friendship and cooperation between Lithuania and Finland.

In the European Parliament (term 2009–2014) Leonidas Donskis worked as a part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE), which is the third largest political group in the Parliament. He was a member of the Development Committee and member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and also a substitute member at the committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Professor Donskis also prepared EP Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World.

Friends and colleagues of Professor Leonidas Donskis have shared their thoughts and condolences:

“This is a tragedy for all of us. The words are useless. We all know he was brilliant. He was genius. He was the best. He leaves emptiness. Please accept my deepest condolences”, – Yulia Shevtsova, Kremlinology expert and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“We, in Forli, are all shocked to hear that, and we can just imagine your feeling and your pain. We all have missed an extraordinary friend, a great intellectual, and a prominent personality. We also know that words do very little in this situation, but we would like to tell you that all MIREES faculty and students are close to you, in this terrible moment”, – Stefano Bianchini, Professor of East European Politics and History, International Coordinator of MIREES (MA in Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe).

“This is a shock – such surprising and sad news. We all share the sorrow”, – Harri Mäki-Reinikka, Senior Adviser for Arctic cooperation at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, former Ambassador of Finland to Lithuania.

“On behalf of the School of Political Sciences of the University of Bologna, I express my personal condolences and the condolences of the whole School. Prof. Donskis has been one of the most active promoters of the cooperation with Vytautas Magnus University within the Consortium of the Mirees programme and we are grateful for his inspiring example. Please extend our deepest sympathies to Prof. Donskis’ family and to the whole Vytautas Magnus University Community”, – Professor Paolo Zurla, Dean of the School of Political Sciences.

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