Balkanski: At AUBG Students Learn to Be Citizens of the World

May 17, 2010

At a cocktail ceremony last Saturday featuring AUBG administration, faculty, and students, members of the Balkanski family as well as guests, the New Academic Building officially became the Balkanski Academic Center in honor of the renowned physicist Professor Minko Balkanski and his family.

“This is the fulfillment of a very long-time dream,” Balkanski began his speech. Building a community of educated, ambitious, and socially engaged youth in Bulgaria is Minko Balkanski’s dream.

This happens to be his long-time friend Dimi Panitza’s dream as well.

Panitza, one of AUBG’s founders, trustee, and patron of the Panitza Library, introduced Balkanski to AUBG, which the latter visited for the first time in 2008. But it wasn’t until the physicist met with several AUBG graduates through one of his Bulgarian projects that he decided to give to the University. He described the alumni he met as “young people eager to create, to do, to work.”

Furthermore, AUBG students possess “hard work, ambition, responsibility, morals, and ethics… That gives me hope that we have here in Bulgaria a place where something happens, where young people learn how to be real citizens of Europe and the world,” Balkanski added.

AUBG alumnus and Melon CEO Krum Hadjigeorgiev’s wholehearted response to a call for support by Balkanski’s foundation touched the professor in particular. “This is the reason why I prize so highly what this University is doing for Bulgaria.”   

Balkanski went on to thank his son Alex Balkanski for his support for his projects in Bulgaria and in particular his generous donation to AUBG.

Fourth-year student Marina Ceprazova, who was also this year’s student Commencement speaker, extended words of thanks on behalf of AUBG students. Referring to the newly named Balkanski Academic Center, she said that this is “the place where brave discoveries are made, where hard work goes along with building friendships and communities, where permanent intellectual growth is a lifestyle, and where maybe a new youngest professor of all times will spend long caffeine-pumped research nights.”


Born in 1927 in Oryahovitsa, Bulgaria, Balkanski emigrated to France in 1945. At 28, he became a professor of physics at the Sorbonne and the world’s youngest professor at the time. Today he is a professor emeritus at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris and a visiting professor at the University of California.  He dedicates most of his time to the Minu Balkanski Foundation, which bears his father’s name and works for the betterment of Bulgarian education and helps talented young Bulgarians develop and receive quality education at prestigious universities.

Story by Kiril Kuculoski & Sylvia Zareva
Photos by Alexander Acosta

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