Hungarian Studies Newsletter, 2000 (17. évfolyam, 58-61. szám)

2000 / 58-61. szám

Ml /VII AMERICAN HUNGARIAN FOUNDATION HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER Foundation's 45th Anniversary; Newsletter Honors Dr. Dienes In 2000 when we commemorate the 45th year of the establishment of the American Hungarian Foundation at Elmhurst College in Illinois, we also remember and honor the memory of Dr. Barnabás Dienes [in Hungarian Barna Dienes) about whom one can say that he provided both vision and the "soil", the site, out of which the Foundation grew in 1954. In 1941 Dr. Dienes was named professor of Hungarian studies for the newly established program at Elmhurst College in Illinois. Rapidly from across the United States, the program attracted stu­dents to this excellent liberal arts co-educational college west of Chicago. For two years in 1945-47 twenty students and I were inspired by our professor in Hungarian language, literature and history. He sought to hand on to us of the second generation in America a formal understanding and appreciation of the Hungarian cultural heritage. He also taught courses in compara­tive literature at the college. In the following article on this page by Dr. lulianna Puskás about Dr. Dienes' life, you will read that his teaching career at Elmhurst College was interrupted in August, 1947, when the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the World Council of Churches asked him to serve first in Europe ministering to the needs of Hungarian dis­placed persons and their families in camps in several countries. As a staff member of the World Council, he then was directed in November, 1948, to South America, where he traveled from coun­try to country ministering to the needs of thousands of Hungarian refugees, who arrived there from the camps in Europe. Until his death in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 1950, Dr. Dienes kept in touch with his students and others across America through his articles published as letters in Reformátusok Lapja. He used the informal, letter style of reporting on his work. For three years the "letters,” all in Hungarian, were addressed to me, his student, with the opening salutation "Kedves Guszti!” Upon the completion of my graduate studies in 1952, I accepted the invitation of President Henry W. Dinkmeyer of Elmhurst College and returned there to join both the college administrative staff and the faculty to head the Hungarian studies teaching pro­gram. In the absence of Dr. Dienes, the Hungarian studies teach­ing program had been carried on by part-time instructors (Mrs. Louis Dienes and Dr. Dezső Parragh). Soon after my return in 1952 to Elmhurst College, we began to develop a series of objectives and plans: expanding both the fund­ing for scholarships and the Hungarian studies program to other colleges and universities; to arrange major cultural events includ­ing concerts; to support a publishing program; and to consider and plan to build a museum, library and archives building. To do all of this a non-profit corporation was needed. The American Hungarian Studies Foundation was chartered on December 28, 1954, with offices at Elmhurst College in Illinois. Later, the name was amended to American Hungarian Foundation. In a short time, scholarship and fellowship funds were raised for college and university students; Hungarian studies teaching pro­grams were expanded at Western Reserve University in 1955 and initiated at Rutgers-The State University in 1959, which today has an Institute for Hungarian Studies; concerts by two major American orchestras were arranged in 1957 by the Foundation at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at Orchestra Hall in Chicago; in 1956 the Foundation published Magyar Album in 10,000 copies; and in 1955 Albert Kner helped design the first rendering for the Foundation's museum, library and archives building. In 1989 that concept for such a building became a reality and was built with the design of architect László Papp in New Brunswick, NJ. The Foundation raised $3 milllion in Phase One with the support of generous donors to erect the museum, library and archives. Currently, the Foundation in Phase Two plans to raise $10 million for endowment and for capital funds to expand the building facility. Without the leadership and the vision of Dr. Barnabás Dienes to found the program of Hungarian studies at Elmhurst College in 1941, no students would have been enrolled in the Hungarian stud­ies program there in 1954. That vision and leadership in effect pro­vided the basis for establishing the American Hungarian Foundation. This issue of Hungarian Studies Newsletter, com­memorating the 45th anniversary of the American Hungarian Foundation is dedicated in grateful remembrance to honor the life and memory of Dr. Barnabás Dienes. August J. Molnár, President American Hungarian Foundation AMERICANS WORTH REMEMBERING Barnabás Dienes (1895-1950) Hungarian-American leaders all share a bitter-sweet destiny. Success and failure are constant companions in their trek to find their place in history. The life and career of Barnabás ("Barna") Dienes is typical of this dualism of achieve­ment and failure, of Sisyphus attempting to reach the top of the mountain in spite of all odds. Barna Dienes' foremost objective in life was to unify all factions of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the United States. This life-long pursuit led him to the peak of his own career in 1939, just sixty years ago, when he became President of the newly established Magyar Synod of Hungarian Reformed churches belonging to the Evangelical and Reformed Church denomination in the United States. As head of the special com­mittee that attempted - and temporarily succeeded - in overcom­ing the church fragmentation, he was also deeply involved in keep­ing contact with the Mother Church in Hungary. However, just at the moment when it looked as if his goal was finally achieved in the Historic Agreement of Ligonier (Pennsylvania), the start of (Continued on page 4) NO. 58-61, WINTER/SPRING/SUMMER/AUTUMN 2000, HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER