NEWTON University welcomes its new Chancellor, Dr. Anna Plechata Krausova

After 12 impactful years at the helm, MUDr Jan Mojzis, MBA, is passing on the Chancellor's sceptre. He continues to be an integral part of the NEWTON family as Chancellor Emeritus and a member of the board of directors of the NEWTON University Group.

Stepping into the role is Dr Anna Plechata Krausova, a respected academic from the University of Oxford,  who has also served as NEWTON’s Vice-Chancellor for International Relations since 2020. Dr Plechata’s research spans democracy, political risk, multiculturalism, and resilience.

As we express our gratitude to Dr Mojzis, we also look forward with anticipation to Dr Plechata's leadership and her vision for the future of NEWTON. Discover more in our exclusive interview with the new Chancellor.

Congratulations on your appointment as Chancellor of Newton University! What excites you the most about stepping into this role?

Thank you! I'm most excited about continuing to widen Newton's international reach. There are unlimited opportunities out there and, as Chancellor, I have a mandate to choose the right path for our growth. My stepping into this position emphasises how seriously Newton takes international expansion – it's a clear signal to our partners that we're fully committed to growing our global presence.

You’re bringing a lot of international academic experience to the role. Can you share how this will shape your approach as Chancellor?

One key aspect is my appreciation for diversity in the classroom. When people come together from different cultures and walks of life to share their educational experience, it sparks innovation – I experienced this first-hand during my time in the UK. Classrooms that mix both Czech and international students aren’t very common here, yet they offer immense benefits – It's something I'm excited to introduce at NEWTON for our students.

What about the teaching style and curriculum at NEWTON – do you see your international experience influencing those as well?

Yes – in fact, my international experience has already had a big influence on the style of education at Newton. We combine the Anglo-Saxon model, which emphasises essay writing and critical thinking, with the strengths and framework of the Czech system. 

Historically, the Czech market has undervalued international experience, in part due to technical differences in degree standards. This created a situation where it was difficult for students who had spent time abroad to come back and find somewhere that valued their skills, or recognised their qualifications. They had to either stay abroad or come home and choose between a fully Czech or fully English university education. 

We think NEWTON is ideally placed to address this gap by proving an option for students who want to experience the best of both worlds. Our programmes are accredited by the Czech Ministry of Education, and therefore offer a Czech degree that is recognised locally, while also equipping students with the skills to succeed in global markets. And the timing is perfect, as we’re now seeing increasing labour market demand for bilingual people who have one foot abroad, especially in the tech sector. 

One of your goals as Chancellor is to further the integration of artificial intelligence in teaching and research. Why is this such a focus of yours and what impact do you think it will have on students' learning experiences?

I believe our role as a business university is to prepare our students for success in the labour market, which means we need to teach them to use the tools that are available. AI isn’t going to replace people, but people who know how to use AI will replace those who don’t. We have a duty to prepare students for this reality.

There are so many tools out there, so we’re guiding our students to navigate them, and to use them effectively and responsibly. For instance, we're teaching them to use ChatGPT to sharpen their arguments and organise their thoughts, ensuring they understand it's a tool for enhancement, not a replacement for their own work.

You plan to use your international experience to open new doors to the world for NEWTON students. What kind of opportunities might they look forward to?

We've just started a new collaboration with Dorset College Dublin, giving students the chance to go on an exchange to an English-speaking country and to be in proximity to tech giants like Google – and this is one of many international partnerships that we offer. And through our membership of the Business Graduates Association, students get lifelong access to a global student network, career guidance, and interview practice in English.

These opportunities equip students with vital, intangible skills – the ability to understand diverse perspectives, to network effectively, and to feel confident in any global setting. You don’t need an international network to be successful, but to be *really* successful, it definitely helps.

Take the example of Social Bakers, a Czech unicorn. They started here but now have a worldwide presence in places as diverse as New York, Istanbul, and Mexico City. Their expansion, especially into Latin America, was heavily reliant on the connections of people like Cristian Gallardo. Without these international ties, the process would have been slower, costlier, and less attuned to local contexts – or maybe wouldn’t have happened at all. 

You’ve also mentioned placing a stronger emphasis on personal development and resilience. Could you elaborate on these plans?

Yes, absolutely. In discussions with other schools during the BGA membership process, resilience was highlighted as a top quality valued by employers. We're already ahead of the Czech market in this area and are looking to expand our efforts further.

Our approach is to foster resilience in a safe way. We don’t believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We want to guide students, and push their boundaries in a way they can cope with. For example, we encourage students to define their goals and aspirations right at the beginning of their studies. We then guide them through the NEWTON ecosystem, helping them to tap into all the resources we offer, from the yacht club to the business accelerator, to help them achieve their objectives.

Additionally, we offer X-Treme Management training. It’s a unique programme based on cognitive science that really pushes participants’ physical and mental boundaries, helping them develop resilience and antifragility. We've incorporated this training and its philosophy into many of our programmes.

Another priority of yours is to enhance NEWTON’s English language offering. It’s already come a long way over the past three years – what do the next three years look like?  

There are lots of things in the pipeline! We're adding an advanced leadership training track to the Global Business Management programme, and also offering a foundation year for students who need to strengthen their English skills. In addition, we're in the process of accrediting a master’s degree in English, primarily targeted at international students. Our ultimate vision is to create a global classroom, where students from around the world can join us in English, regardless of their location. 

Another thing we’re working on is establishing dual degrees with some of our partner institutions, which will allow Czech students to spend their final year studying abroad. Additionally, we're planning a ‘Newton in Oxford’ summer school in September 2024, which will be open to all students and focus on global leadership. 

Looking ahead, what do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for NEWTON in the next few years?

One of the biggest challenges we face is internal internationalisation. We need to bridge the gaps between different cultures and educational styles, integrating our Czech and international students, and fostering connections among our staff and faculty. This challenge, while significant, also presents a unique opportunity to create a truly global and inclusive learning environment.

On the opportunity front, a major focus is the integration of artificial intelligence into our educational framework. While some universities are closing the door on AI, we see it as a route to innovation and progress. As a smaller institution, we have the agility to implement new initiatives quickly, so we’re planning to make the most of that.

With such ambitious plans, it must be important to maintain some balance. How do you unwind in your spare time?

Well, my life is rarely quiet! In different ways, both mountain climbing and motherhood have taught me a lot about staying resilient. I also make time for fitboxing – It's a great way to stay active and clear my mind. These activities recharge me, preparing me to tackle whatever comes next with energy and perspective. And when I don’t have time for hobbies, there’s always coffee!

Well, we wish you luck – it sounds like you’ve got quite the ‘to do’ list sitting on your desk. Is there anything final you want to share?

I’m looking forward to some busy but rewarding years ahead. Right now, I feel like I do when I'm at the base of a new mountain – excited for the challenge and full of energy, with just a trace of trepidation!

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