OBITUARY : Igor Hajek

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The Independent Online
May I add to Jan Culk's and Richard Davy's obituary of Igor Hajek [27 April] a note on his contributions to Lancaster University? writes Professor Peter McClintock.

In addition to teaching and researching in Sir Cecil Parrott's Comenius Centre, Hajek also served as Dean of Cartmel College (its chief disciplinary officer). His jurisdiction was characterised by insight, firmness and scrupulous fairness, coupled with a wonderful ironic sense of humour that often helped to defuse potentially explosive situations - even when misguided students mouthed Marxist rhetoric at him, failing to appreciate that his Czech background had given him an unusual degree of insight into the nature of such regimes.

Hajek contributed to the life of the community in numerous ways. His proposed solution to the endemic problem of cockroaches in the college kitchens, to engage the services of a tame hedgehog - an absolutely standard and reliable medieval remedy, he explained - did not, alas, find favour. But his seasonal advice on finding, gathering, preserving and preparing wild mushrooms, published in local newspapers, was appreciated by many. (He regarded cultivated mushrooms as dull almost to the point of inedibility.)

Hajek's enforced departure for Glasgow in 1983 left the college permanently in his debt, but there was widespread pleasure that he and his wife Marcella chose to retain the house they had bought in Lancaster, and to keep in contact with friends they had made during his 12-year career in the university.