Dr Péter Sótonyi, the rector of the University of Veterinary Medicine, was the guest of the writer, poet and literary historian Mihály Takaró at 9 p.m. 19th March on “The Night” show on Kossuth Radio. The lead-in of the show presents that Hungary has been among the European forerunners of veterinary medicine and veterinarian education since the 19th century. During the almost half-an-hour talk, the topics of Professor Sótonyi’s family, life, dedication to the horse, public role as well as the significance of the alma mater for the Hungarian veterinary faculty – and for the increasing international veterinary society – were all discussed.
Dr Péter Sótonyi told Takaró that his father, Dr László Sótonyi was born in 1923. He graduated as an agronomist at the Magyaróvári Academy in 1947. He was imprisoned in 1948, then worked as a labourer in various jobs and even concealed having a high-school diploma. In 1953 he became an assistant lecturer, then an associate professor and world-known preparator. His memorial plaque was placed on the wall of the Academy last year. The first husband of Dr Péter Sótonyi’s mother died in Siberia. The rector of our university claimed that even though he grew up in poor circumstances, he had a wonderful childhood. He received affection from his mother and knowledge from his father. His wife was living two streets away from him and later became a music teacher. Their daughter is a veterinarian, their son is an economist.
How defining childhood is in our lives is well portrayed by Dr Péter Sótonyi’s story. He grew up among anatomy books, started to ride horse at the age of 12. In 1972 he jumped 1.75 meters with Diana. Since he taught horse anatomy all over the country, horse riders had a great connection with him thus he became the vice president of the Hungarian Equestrian Association on the side of Vilmos Lázár, outstanding organiser, sportsman and businessman. They set the goal of Hungary meeting the criteria of an equestrian nation again, from which we drifted far away, unfortunately. Sótonyi gave an example that while in – the ski-nation – Austria 16% of children get in touch with horses, in Hungary this rate is 1%.
The rector went through the marks of our equestrian past from King Mathias’s world in the Árpád era to the Reform era. He spoke about the damage that the Hungarian horse stock suffered during the Hungarian Independence War of 1848. At this point, with the name of Vilmos Zlamal, the history of our nation and of the University of Veterinary Medicine were connected.
“The competitiveness of our university is rooted in our history. We are proud that the third world-wide established veterinary institution is ours.” Dr Péter Sótonyi emphasised. During the talk, Béla Tormay, József Marek and Ferenc Hutyra were also mentioned whose accomplishment with others founded the multicultural atmosphere at our campus – as today 1000 foreign students study in English and in German besides the 500 Hungarians on our campus (on István street).
Mihály Takaró mentioned that Dr Péter Sótonyi was awarded the Széchenyi Prize and became the president of the Batthyány Society of Professors. In connection with these, the rector stated that according to his ars poetica we need to live and act with respect to the laws of nature.
The talk can be listened to at this link (only in Hungarian):