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Michał Bilewicz and Walter Żelazny have been waiting for a professorship for five years

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Dr. hab. Michał Bilewicz from the University of Warsaw and dr hab. Walter Żelazny from the university in Bialystok is still waiting for the title of professor. There are doubts that delays in presidential nominations may be related to the topics of their scientific work and non-scientific activities. The case was also dealt with by the Ombudsman. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.

Among the river of banners at the march on June 4, one was particularly personal – the appeal of dr hab. Michał Bilewicz to the president Andrzej Duda to sign his professorship. – I deal with topics that are not accepted by the Polish authorities – he admits. – Five years are slowly approaching when this title could be awarded – says the scientist from the University of Warsaw.

Michał Bilewicz has been waiting for a professorship nomination for five yearsTwitter/Michal_Bilewicz

He conducts research, among others, on anti-Semitic attitudes in Polish society. In this he sees the reasons for the president’s tardiness. – My research has also been attacked by the far right. There is a feeling that talking about anti-Semitism, talking about the prejudices of Poles is slandering the Polish nation, he points out.

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The president has doubts

Bilewicz had to undergo a complicated procedure conducted by a state institution consisting of professors from all over Poland – the Council of Scientific Excellence. They positively assessed the achievements of the scientist.

Later, the application for the title went to the president and stuck there. The president has no specific time to make a decision. – There was a suggestion from the president whether to appoint new reviewers for the same case – says the chairman of the Council of Scientific Excellence, prof. Grzegorz Wegrzyn.

The President addressed the Council with his doubts – they were about the fact that three out of five reviewers came from the same university.

– At the same time, both before and after my nomination, the president signed many professor nominations, in which three reviewers also came from the same unit – points out Bilewicz.

Opposition to discrimination against scientists

The scientist was defended by prof. Eve Haman. She received her nomination in a mask with the inscription: “Michał Bilewicz is a professor”. – I call on the president to sign all nominations in accordance with the law – she appealed moments after accepting the nomination. – Then I heard from him: “everyone who deserves it” – she says.

This is not the only voice of opposition. Here is a fragment of the declaration signed by over 400 people: “Using the office of the president to discriminate against scientists who are considered politically incorrect by those in power (…) cannot take place in a law-abiding and democratic state.”

– Each of the potential professors in Poland may now wonder what they can and cannot say in public, because it may be related to the fact that they will not be nominated regardless of their achievements – fears Prof. Haman.

On Wednesday, President Andrzej Duda, for the 42nd time since 2015, presented professorial nominations. Michał Bilewicz was absent from this ceremony again. There was also no Walter Żelazny, who has also been waiting for his nomination for five years.

Żelazny sees the reason in his speech on the Białystok market square, which was critical of the government, where he said that “this hydra can be beaten and I strongly encourage you to start exercises in this direction.”

The Ombudsman intervenes in the nominations of professors

In connection with this speech, the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation, but after two months the case was discontinued. Contrary to the case of Bilewicz – in the case of Walter Żelazny, another thread is important – the scientist from the University of Bialystok was included in the list of secret collaborators of the Security Service.

– The president, his office and himself, may have some threads in relation to me, only in a civilized country he should explain it – says Żelazny.

Professor Marcin Matczak, who did not receive his nomination from President Andrzej Duda, expresses solidarity with Żelazny. – If the president thinks that a person who collaborated with the SB should not be a professor, let him say that he thinks so and then we will all be able to assess whether it is right or not – he believes. – Perhaps it should be so, but then the person concerned will be able to explain it somehow or will be able to question it somehow – he adds.

He is also concerned about the case of both scientists Ombudsman. In the Ombudsman’s opinion, the lengthy processing of applications raises doubts as to the transparency of the procedure. The president’s office has not responded to questions about the lack of professorial appointments for Bilewicz and Żelazny for a week.

Main photo source: Twitter/Michal_Bilewicz

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