History of Central European University
CEU evolved from a series of lectures held at the IUC in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia). In the Spring of 1989, as historical change was gathering momentum in the region the need for a new, independent, international university was being considered. The minutes of the gathering held in April 1989 records a discussion among scholars such as Rudolf Andorka, Péter Hanák, Márton Tardos,István Teplán, Tibor Vámos and Miklós Vásárhelyi from Budapest, William Newton-Smith and Kathleen Wilkes from Oxford, Jan Havranek, Michal Illner and Jiří Kořalka from Prague, Krzysztof Michalski and Włodzimierz Siwiński from Warsaw.
The University was founded in 1991 in response to the fall of the Socialist Bloc. The founding vision was to create a university dedicated to examining the contemporary challenges of "open societies" and democratization. The initial aim was to create a Western-modeled yet distinctly Central European institution that would foster inter-regional cooperation and educate a new corps of regional leaders to help usher in democratic transitions across the region. It was originally located in Prague, but because of "political and financial conflict between its founder and Czech government" represented by Vaclav Klaus it moved to campus in Budapest.
In its second decade, CEU broadened its focus from regional to global, with a special emphasis on democracy promotion and human rights around the world. It has since developed a distinct academic approach, combining regional studies with an international perspective, emphasizing comparative and interdisciplinary research in order to generate new scholarship and policy initiatives, and to promote good governance and the rule of law. CEU has extended its outreach and financial aid programs to certain areas of the developing world.
CEU began the region's first master's degree programs in gender studies and environmental sciences. The CEU Center for Media, Data and Society is the leading center of research on media, communication, and information policy in the region.
On 14 October 2007 George Soros stepped down as Chairman of CEU Board. Leon Botstein (President of Bard College, New York), who had previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Board, was elected as new Chairman for a two-year term. George Soros is a Life-CEU Trustee and serves as Honorary Chairman of the Board.
On 1 August 2009 Rector Yehuda Elkana was succeeded by human rights leader and legal scholar John Shattuck. On May 5, 2016, it was announced that Michael Ignatieffwould succeed Shattuck, becoming the fifth president and rector of the university.