A double book launch, edited and written by AAU professors, introduced their COVID-19 focused material to faculty and students on 12 March as the number of infections rose again this past winter.

The event began with an introduction to the books and a description of the first title: “Leadership in the Time of COVID: Pandemic Responses in Central Europe,” edited by AAU professors George Hays II, Joshua M. Hayden, and Milada Polišenská. It recounted leadership during COVID-19 in countries belonging to the Visegrad designation, those being Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Czechia.

Professor Hayden delved deeper into the material in his speech, jumping from topics such as vaccinations, to struggles for power. The book was further described as giving examples of how leaders of the aforementioned countries managed to deal with the ambiguity that the time brought.

“We wanted to look at leaders within the Visegrad countries in relation to this democratic theory of leadership. We were looking at how leaders frame problems and how they communicate…and it’s not a happy tale,” said Professor Hayden.

The second book: “AAU in the Time of COVID, 2020-2022: Alma Mater Semper Viva,” edited by Professor Polišenská and AAU graduate Adiya Ashirova was outlined as pertaining mainly to the institution as a whole. The book includes the challenges that AAU struggled through as well as the truth of what transpired throughout that period of time.

Photo by: Madison Codoner

“Despite all the difficulties and challenges and hard times of COVID, you know university lives…and continues,” said Professor Polišenská.

AAU struggled during COVID-19 and faced a possible closure in a world that was stopped in its tracks. It was not until after the institution restructured and went online that it could keep its doors open and still provide an education to its students. This subject was addressed by AAU president Jiří Schwarz in the opening introduction to the material and its real-world applications. 

“What I’m appreciating about this is the value of documenting things in the moment, because the moment is history. We didn’t know at the moment that what we were going through was huge…we went through a pandemic,” said Genevieve Flores, a third-year Business Administration student. 

The launch provided a variety of perspectives from administrators and educators who worked on the books or helped along its conception. The event was tied together by a photo exhibition curated from student work during the pandemic which allowed the audience to relive this chapter of AAU’s history.