Professor Dr. Dr. Honoris Causa mult. Edmund Kazimierz Prost
Professor Edmund Kazimierz Prost was born on April 9, 1921 in Janów Lubelski as a son of a Polish Army officer. He traced his ancestry to the French Huguenots who emigrated from France, torn by the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, to Wurtemberg, and from there to Poland at the beginning of the 19th century. Owing to the nature of his father’s occupation, the Prost family frequently changed residence. Edmund Kazimierz obtained his baccalaureate in 1939 as he finished the renowned Stefan Charniecki Grammar School in the city of Chełm Lubelski. The breakout of WW II was followed by the hard years of German occupation and tragic events afflicting the family: father’s execution, long months of Edmund’s incarceration in a German prison, departure for Warsaw, and a flight from that city during the Warsaw Uprising. Those experiences as well as high moral demands posed at the future professor’s home shaped him as a determined and uncompromising person. The end of the war made it possible to think of the future. Universities were reopened and first classes of students could commence their studies. Thus, in the academic year 1944-1945 Edmund Prost entered the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. Before graduation he was invited to work in the department of food hygiene under the direction of Alfreda Trawińskiego, the internationally recognised scientific authority. In 1949 he graduated with a veterinary surgeon diploma and in the following year he obtained the degree of a doctor of veterinary medicine. After the reorganisation of higher education in Poland in 1955 the professor worked initially at the Higher Agricultural School in Lublin, later renamed to the Agricultural Academy, and the Department of Hygiene of Food of Animal Origin in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. It is in that faculty that the professor pursued his scientific career through all subsequent stages, obtaining ultimately full professorship in 1976.
The scope of his research included three areas: the impact of harmful factors on the suitability of slaughter material for consumption, the impact of physiological animal factors on the quality of edible materials and the changing nutritional value and healthful quality of food of animal origin depending on its production and storage conditions. Some of the research was carried out as part of two five-year research programmes in collaboration with the Center for Agricultural Research in the USA. As a mark of appreciation for his work, the professor was awarded with honorary diplomas by the USA Department of Agriculture and with a permanent fellowship of the prestigious American Meat Science Association. The professor’s research resulted in 170 publications, including original research papers and scientific reviews published in renowned foreign journals, 10 repeatedly reprinted books and manuals, and a monograph in English and Japanese entitled Food – borne Salmonellosis, prepared in collaboration with Prof. H. Riemann from the USA. His profound knowledge, experience, scientific achievements and collaboration with renowned scientific centres made him an unquestionable authority on food hygiene. Consequently, he was repeatedly invited by European and American universities as a lecturer, and by the FAO as its food hygiene expert (Barbados, Botswana, Vietnam).
An integral part of the professor’s scientific activity was his pedagogical work. Professor Edmund Prost was an excellent lecturer and a friend to the academic youth. He was demanding but his marks were fair. He lectured and examined from 1961 until 2003, that is even 12 years after retirement (in 1991). During the 42 years of his educational career he examined 7.221 students, not counting - sometimes repeated - corrective exams. He created a special exam register where he recorded the scientific progress of numerous student generations.
He also devoted a great deal of his time to educating young scientists. He supervised 17 doctoral theses and tutored 6 habilitation dissertations. Not only did he lead his pupils to scientific titles and degrees, but also guided them in their choice of scientific specialisation. The professor’s creative initiative and emotional involvement in all pursuits caused him to be entrusted with numerous positions in the world of science. The Head of the Department of Food Hygiene (1961-1991), dean of the Faculty he was strongly attached to (1962-1966), the first elected rector of the Agricultural Academy in Lublin during the difficult years of 1981-1987, and at the same time vice-president of the World Veterinary Association and vice-president of the World Association of Veterinary Food Hygienists , as well as president of the Polish Society of Veterinary Sciences (1960-1997 with intermissions), president of the Lublin Scientific Society (1991-2008) – these are just a few chosen aspects of his busy life. As a sign of high regard for the professor’s versatile activities, he was awarded honoris causa doctorates by the Humboldt University in Berlin (1990) and the Agricultural Academy in Lublin (1999), honorary fellowships of the World Veterinary Association, Polish Society of Veterinary Sciences (which also made him its first honorary president), German and Hungarian Societies of Veterinary Medicine, the Committee for Veterinary Medicine at the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), as well as the Oczapowski medal by the fifth department of PAN. He was also honoured with numerous state decorations, such as the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and the Medal of the Commission of National Education, the Lumen Mundi medal of the Lublin diocese, the main award in the “science” category of TU Alianz Polska S.A., as well as numerous other awards from the departmental and provincial authorities, domestic and foreign universities, various other organisations and associations. A special place among the professor’s activities was reserved for editorial work. In years 1970-1983 he was editor-in-chief of Polskie Archiwum Weterynaryjne, and from 1967 he edited Medycyna Weterynaryjna, the journal to which he devoted 41 years of his life and put in international ranking lists.
He made his mark in each area where he was active: research as well as education and organisation. His keen intelligence, impeccable manners, erudition, diversity of interests, contact-making skills, straightforwardness and attachment to principles combined to make him an outstanding figure of enormous authority. His comportment and attitude to others inspired respect and sympathy. As a boss, he was demanding of his co-workers. He taught them solid work ethics and responsibility. At the same time he took interest in his co-workers’ lives and could be relied upon for advice and help. Almost every day he gathered everybody around him to discuss various not only scientific matters. He was a broad-minded person with original views and a sparkling sense of humour, equally at home with history and literature as with natural sciences, which made any conversation with him a uniquely enjoyable and memorable experience.
He worked till the last days despite deteriorating physical and mental state. He departed on January 20, 2008. The burial ceremony became a demonstration in honour of the deceased. On his last journey, in the funeral procession through the city streets on January 26, he was accompanied by the authorities of the Lublin city and its universities, hierarchs and clergy of the Catholic church, representatives of veterinary faculties and scientific institutes, university employees, students and numerous alumni who arrived from all over the country.
He was buried in the Evangelical Cemetery in Lipowa Street in Lublin.