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When professor was a student...: Volodymyr Pavlysh, Lviv Polytechnic First Vice-Rector, remembers and reflects

19 May 2017, 11:30
Borys Kozlovskiy, Lviv Polytechnic Press Srvice

When the author of this article was still working in «Vysokyy Zamok» newspaper, the editorial board did an interesting project – had a serious of interview with rectors of all higher educational institutions in Lviv region under the heading «When Rector was a student...». There was also an interview with late Yuriy Kyrylovych Rudavskyy, Lviv Polytechnic Rector, and his successor Yuriy Yaroslavovych Bobalo.

Since then, several new figures became rectors of higher educational institutions in our region. However, the editorial board decided against renewing this rubric. Instead, as a reporter of Lviv Polytechnic Press Service, I decided to start a similar rubric – «When professor was a student: professor remembers and reflects…» Volodymyr Pavlysh, First Vice-Rector of the University, is opening it. Pay attention that professor ot only remembers but also reflects. It means not only memories about student years, but also an opportunity to compare students of those times and modern young people.

I know that you were born in Maheriv, Zhovkva district, in Lviv region. I was there when I served in Yavoriv firing ground, since Maheriv lies nearby. It seems that there was a big machine testing station of agricultural technology…

– By 1959, Maheriv was a district centre. Now it is a small urban village located in a picturesque place – surrounded by lakes and forests.

Who were your parents?

– My mother and father worked in finance. They graduated from Kyiv Institute of People’s Economy as extramural students. My father, who passed away no so long ago, worked as Head of Maheriv district financial department. After he graduated the institute with appreciation, he was transferred to study at Leningrad Financial Academy. I really don’t remember Maheriv because we moved when I was 5. Together with my elder brother, I went to school in Stryy, where my father was transferred to work as Head of Stryy town financial department. I studied there only until fifth form because my father was transferred again, this time to work as Deputy Head of Lviv regional financial department.

It was a rather high post. Your groupmate, Viktor Vasylyovych Hoblyk, said you were a modest student and never boasted about your father’s post.

– No one asked me, so I did not talk about it. By the way, we always lived rather modestly, especially when my parents worked in Maheriv and Stryy. They had to live on a shoestring budget…

– What about your school years?

– I had to change schools. I went to the sixth form at Lviv school № 62, which is located in Teatralna street. I studied there for 2 years. And then, for reasons unknown, we were transferred to school № 13, which is near Lviv regional philharmonic. After two years there, some pupils of out class returned to school № 62.

Did you receive a gold medal when you left school?

– I wasn’t good enough for «gold». I had a silver medal. I had a «four» in Geography. This subject was taught by the headmistress of our school Dariya Hryhorivna, who was a very demanding teacher. Somehow I did not manage to be good enough. By the way, in those times, medals were a real privilege. The posts and influence of your parents did not matter.

– Why did you choose Lviv Polytechnic and Radiotechnology for your further studies? Obviously, Physics was your favourite subject.

– I would say that I was fascinated by Mathematics. Two circumstances influenced my choice of major. At that time, I and my friend took up radiotechnology as a hobby. It was a popular hobby among young people. We made primitive radios, when we were still at school. We got some parts somewhere, and other parts were bought. I know that my groupmates, Yuriy Bobalo and Viktor Hoblyk, were also keen on making radios. Another thing that encouraged me to study Radiotechnology in Polytechnic was the fact that my elder brother Anatoliy had also entered this faculty. He told me with fascination about his studying at the institute and about the prospects of this field. At that time, Radiotechnology, especially in military industry, was thriving in Lviv. My brother’s last place of employment was «LORTA» deputy director general responsible for quality. This enterprise still exists. However, the number of its employees has been cut to the minimum.

How successful were you in your studies?

– I was a good student. I had an increased scholarship, which was 40 karbovansti at that time.

You lived in Lviv with your parents. Did you visit guys in the dormitory?

– Very often. Especially before exams. We studied in small groups before exams. Every person had notes, which were more or less complete. It was a kind of brainstorming.

When I talk about exams, I always want to ask about cribs…

– I made cribs in certain subjects. However, I rarely used them at exams. I liked to write them because when you write, you remember things better. I took my cribs to exams to be more confident. In those times, the so called «bomb cribs» entered student fashion. You had a separate sheet of paper and a catalogue for each question. I still remember a funny incident. The most difficult subject for us was the theory of electromagnetic field. There were complicated Maxwell equations. This subject was taught by Yosyp Andriyovych Zahariya (I wish him many years of life) in a very interesting way. Our groupmate Denys Sholohon came to this exam. He had a special big pocket for the «bombs» sewn inside his jacket with white threads. Unfortunately, when he came up to the examiner, the jacket opened up unexpectedly. Yosyp Andriyovych asks him:

What do you have in there?


Show me, otherwise you’ll get a «two»...

Yosyp Andriyovych did not have exam cards on the desk. He had a list of questions, almost one hundred. The group learned those questions. And when a student took his seat near him, he gave each person a different question, one had question 35 or 75. Sholohon’s system interested the examiner. Can you find the answer to this question and to that one? Denys did it very dexterously. Yosyp Andriyovysh saw that the student had been preparing. «Will you be satisfied with a «three»?, – he asks. It was great luck to get a «three» from such demanding professor.

We all thought that Professor Bohdan Andriyovych Mandziy was a great teacher. He taught the theory of signals. He was an exceptionally intelligent and tolerant person. You could feel that he was teaching his material not just to complete his hours of work. He really wanted to teach students. Bohdan Andriyovych never bore grudges, and students were different. He assessed everyone by their knowledge. He tried to make students not memorize the material but understand why the signal is such.

When we were first-year students, we were taught special disciples by Yuriy Teofanovych Velychko, a professor who had been working in Polytechnic before WWII. To tell you the truth, it was difficult to understand him because he used too many Polish words and terms. His methods were the following: he wrote formulas on so called «prozirky», film that was wound on a drum, and later the image was projected on the wall. It was something like modern projectors.

You came to the polytechnic institute from school, and there were also boys who had served in the army. Was there any «fagging» among students? I know it from my own experience as a student, that senior students sent younger ones to buy them wine or cigarettes…

– We did not experience this. Guys that had served in the army were very much respected by students and lecturers. They had more life experience, they were morally and physically strong. When they first- or second-year students, older guys could be weaker in some subjects. However, due to their perseverance, they managed to cope with everything and further on they were really good students. These guys include Yuriy Bobalo, Valeruy Rumyantsev, Bohdan Vynnychek. We were normal students. We went to dancing, sometimes we could drink a little beer or wine. There was this popular wine called «White Fortified», it was known as «biomicyn» and it cost 92 kopiyka...

Many University and institutes leaders went through such public organization as «komsomol». One of the professors joked that trade unions had money and «komsomol» had ideas and initiative.

– There is something to it. In my faculty, I was the deputy of Viktor Hoblyk in «komsomol». I was responsible for organization work, later I worked as a deputy secretary of the institute. It happened accidentally. I met my good friend Volodya Rozumnyy. He was the secretary of the institute «komsomol» board. He said: be my deputy. I agreed. However, Volodya was not re-elected and I had to work with Oleksandr Kozhuhar.

One of the directors of our academic institutes once tried to convince me that in the1970–90ies all «komsomol» activists had either good or excellent marks. However, it isn’t true. Viktor Hoblyk brought me a clipping of his material from Lviv Polytechnic newspaper dated February 22, 1972. For two weeks very diligently, he had been tracking marks of «komsomol» activists. The author gives the following information: «The general academic level of «komsomol» leaders was 95,3 per cent, which is 4,5 per cent higher than the academic level of the faculty. Volodymyr Pavlysh, Iryna Hlynenko, Lyudmyla Zavilenska, Roman Lyahovetskyy, Nadiya Yuhymenko, Isay Shvartsband combine excellent academic results with active work for «komsomol» organization…» Together with this, Viktor Hoblyk gave a few names of «komsomol» activists that had low marks, but we will not name them.

A separate page of your student life is not only excellent academic results but also active participation in research and scientific work.

– My scientific interests were within the scope of Scientific Research Laboratory 16 (SRL 16). Markiyan Pavlykevych, a future professor, who worked with super high frequency technology, supervised one of the groups there. Together with him, we researched emission of electromagnetic waves in waveguides. My diploma project on this topic was awarded third prize in the All-Union contest of student research works. And as third-year students, I, Viktor Hoblyk and Viktor Mazur, supervised by senior lecturer Kostyantyn Radionchyk, prepared a collective research work, which received an award at a republican contest. This work had a code name «Triada» because there were three of us.

Which posts did you hold in SRL 16?

– I worked in this structural unit in 1973–1978. At first, I worked as an engineer, then junior research worker. In 1978, I was sent to target postgraduate school of Leningrad Institute of Electrotechnology. Our family council was trying to decide whether I should go or not. At that time I was married and had a one-year-old daughter. I am very grateful to my mother-in-law, who said that my wife could stay with her, and they would be able to take care of the child. The period of studying in the postgraduate school was three years. A little different but similar family situation was with Yuriy Bobalo, when he went to study in a postgraduate school in Moscow.

How did you feel in Leningrad? Was there any prejudice against people from the west?

– I found myself in a wonderful, warm atmosphere of the academic world. I always remember with a kind smile my academic supervisor with gentle Ukrainian family name Borys Mykolayovych Dendobrenko. I met him at one of the conferences. He was a prominent scientist and a very kind person. After three years of studies, I had to stay in Leningrad for another four months. Borys Mykolayovych said to me, «Volodya, if you leave, I doubt that you will be able to defend your thesis, you have to do it here…» However, I had to keep a place in the dormitory, so I was temporarily employed as an engineer of the department.

In 1982, under Borys Mykolayouvych’s supervision, I defended my candidate dissertation «Modeling and controlling the technological process of ionic-plasma spraying» successfully and came back to Lviv Polytechnic. I had a separate chapter in my dissertation on automation of this process. There was developed a system of controlling this object with its own algorithm, transducers. At that time, the defense of a dissertation was accompanied by its industrial implementation. I made this implementation at Leningrad research industrial union «Avangard». It was a powerful enterprise that dealt with automation and was the first to introduce flexible manufacturing systems. Ihor Arkadiyovych Domaratskiy was chief of automation department there. In 1992, I and he published a book on the issues of flexible automated industries, in Ukrainian by the way.

Right after my defense, there was certain anxiety. In Moscow, several postgraduate students were failed, one of them was a foreign student, which happened very rarely. For some time (nearly 7 months), there was no confirmation from Moscow. Then there was a reference of the so called «black reader», who doubted the real economic effect and the speciality according to which I had defended my dissertation. Also I was called to attend an expert council in Moscow. I understood that I had to show no the potential economic effect but the real one. Again I went to Leningrad to «Avangard», to Ihor Arkadiyovych. He said, «No problem, we will make the implementation for you. Moreover, you have written programs» I really carried a heap of those punch cards. They calculated and wrote the real economic effect. Now I had to prove that I had defended my dissertation according to the relevant speciality. I went to Moscow to attend an expert council. My colleagues tried to reassure me saying that it was good that only I was called but not my academic supervisor. If both of us had been called, it would have been bad. I went to Moscow and headed straight to Lenin Library. I opened the passports of specialities – mine («radioelectronic devices and systems»), and also automated control systems. I wrote five sheets, separately for «one speciality» and separately for «another speciality». I was advised to bring these notes not on the day of the expert council meeting, but beforehand, so that they would have time to look through the information I had gathered. That’s what I did...

By the way, when I came to Moscow, I stayed at Yuriy Bobalo’s. He and also my academic supervisor Dendobrenko (he found time to come to Moscow) went with me to the expert council meeting as support team. However, they were not allowed to be at the meeting. It was said they had not been called, only the author of the dissertation. I entered that room. There were nearly 10–12 people sitting at the desk leafing through my dissertation. Borys Mykolayovych and Yura were waiting for me in the hall keeping their fingers crossed. Finally, the chairman said, «As a rule, we do not inform candidates about the result, but we are going to tell you that we will recommend your work for approval». Of course, after this we went to one of the Moscow restaurants and celebrated this event, when all worries and anxieties were over.

What about your career in Polytechnic after you defended your dissertation?

– In 1982–1989, I worked as a junior research worker, senior lecturer, associate professor and professor of the Department of Radio Devices Construction and Manufacturing Technology. In 2000, I was elected Head of this department, which we eventually renamed into the Department of Information and Computer Technologies Electronic Tools, taking into account changing the specialization of the department – opening a new speciality «Technologies and Means of Telecommunication», specialization «Electronic Tools for Business Technologies and Banking Systems» as well as job market demands.

In 1989, I became Vice-Rector for Education. At that time, late Valentyn Mykolayovych Stryapan was First Vice-Rector. He was a very good scientist and a kind person. We did a lot of good things together we him. Together we introduced the rating assessment system. He was the one to recommend me for the position of Vice-Rector for Education. I was accepted for this position by Rector Mykhaylo Havrylyuk. In 2007, after Yuriy Yaroslavovych Bobalo was elected Rector, he offered me the position of the First Vice-Rector. I have been in this post for almost 10 years.

According to the military ranking, in my opinion, this post is equal to the position of the chief of the general staff. To conclude our conversation, what are your thoughts about modern students if you compare them students of your youth…

– Students have always been and will be the most progressive part of the society in any country at any period of time. Now our country is different, the society is different, students are different. In many respects they are similar, in others they are different. The most important task for students is to study, gain knowledge. Students of my youth had more motivation for gaining knowledge. At that time, there were 52 specialities and all of them were in demand at the job market. There was also state division. Now every student has to look for a job him/herself. That is why many graduates have to work not according to their speciality. People say that we have too many higher educational institutions, too many students. It is true. A certain number of educational institutions lose their licenses, some of them join others voluntarily. However, it is a very serious problem, when you have to cut. Young people nowadays have more opportunities. First of all, there are more technical tools for studying. I mean information technologies. However, no computer can substitute the «little grey cells» of the brain and «live» communication between a students and a lecturer.

Have students become more selfish?

– I would put it in different words: more pragmatic. Young people want to get the result as soon as possible – a good prestigious job, a high salary. The war in the East of Ukraine has made our youth more patriotic. According to the recent survey among students, the number of those who would like to move abroad has decreased.

I am jealous of those young people who are fluent in English. We had no motivation when we were students.

– When we were students, there was an «iron curtain» between the Soviet Union and the free world. There was no motivation to learn foreign languages. Most people were not able to leave the country. For instance, I went abroad for the first time in 1974 – to Zwickau, Eastern Germany. We signed an agreement on exchanging building teams.

By the way, many people feel nostalgia for building teams…

– We can say that it is possible to renew building teams, probably in a different form. It was a good school of physical and moral strength, and students could earn extra money.

Is it possible to compare former «komsomol» and modern student self-government?

– «Komsomol» had distinctive ideological communist features, although it was not the main thing. We did mainly concrete work not political things – the same building teams, sports, various clubs. Of course, modern students have to have their own organization, which can unite young people, guard their interests. The Law «On Higher Education» calls for this. Academic Board and University leadership support student self-government. Their representatives take part in collegial University governing bodies, they have their say on implementing the new provision on allotting the scholarship fund. However, I would like to voice my opinion of the period of time for which the head of the students union is elected. It is one year. The person can only get the hang of it. The head of the student self-government should be elected from the students or PhD students at least for three years.

All the time I have been working in the University, there have been discussions about strictness of assessing students’ knowledge and expelling them for failing courses. What is your personal opinion about this?

–Not long ago, we approved changes in the provision on semester assessment. My opinion is the following: we should give a chance to those who want to study. We analyzed the situation on repeating courses. If we did not have this provision, every year we would additionally expel almost 1,500 students. It is essential to care about the fate of junior students. It is also about the student’s upbringing, temper. At this age, right after leaving school, they have a lot of «sloppiness», the feeling of permissiveness, irresponsibility. If we expel students right away, where will they go? The street?

– Apart from being very busy with your current work (дyou have to process lots of documents), do you have time for research?

– Yes, I do. Together with Viktor Hoblyk and Yuriy Romanyshyn, we completed three budget topics connected with nano-technologies, developing moduled nano-sized structures, creating devices for infocommunication systems. Apart from this, there are also topics of the department research.

You PhD student defended thesis not so long ago…

– It was Denys Nevinskyy, a scientist with great potential. It was a very interesting work – developing and creating nano-sized structures (splitters, switchboards, multiplexers on surface plasmons for information and communication systems). It will enable us to increase their throughput capacity and operation speed.

To conclude, I would like to ask you some personal questions. Is you wife also a radiotechnologist?

– No. Olha Vsevolodivna studied at the heat engineering faculty of our university. After graduation, she was sent to work Lviv project institute № 3, where she worked for quite a long time as an engineer, senior engineer. By the way, we met in «komsomol». At the time when I was deputy secretary of Lviv Polytechnic «komsomol», Olya was deputy secretary of the heat engineering faculty «komsomol» organization. Our younger daughter Olenka completed her studies in the postgraduate school at the Institute of Architecture and defended her dissertation. Our elder daughter Olya is on the maternity leave raising her four-year-old daughter. She is an economist.

I know that you are 66. You do not look your age. Do you have any secrets?

– I have never had bad habits. I have never given way to my emotions, tried to keep a stiff upper lip.

What about sports?

– To be more precise, it is exercising. I have been doing athletics and playing football since I was a schoolboy. I love walking three-four kilometers in the morning. I have a horizontal bar at home.

How many times can you pull yourself up?

– Nearly 5 times.

It is not bad for your age. By the way, do you feel you are 66?

– Thanks God, I don’t, not yet…