Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


Farewell to a friend: Peter Fischer-Appelt in memory of Ørjar Øyen

IN MEMORY OF ØRJAR ØYEN (19 February 1927 – 2 March 2024)


It is with great respect and deep gratitude that I take leave of my dear friend Ørjar Øyen, longstanding companion and honourable colleague, ancient Rector of the University of Bergen (1978 – 1983) and Director General of the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik (1987 – 1996), Professor of Sociology for about 30 years (1968 – 1997) at Bergen. In the international community of universities, he was a well known and highly esteemed scholar, a Nordic figure of sensitive leadership, a true gentleman of trustworthiness.


We became friends at first glance when we met in late August 1971 in Dubrovnik at the founding meeting of what was designed as an international Centre for Social Sciences by Ivan Supek then Rector of the University of Zagreb. At the rocky beaches of the Island of Lokrum, we joined together to make Dubrovnik an international meeting place for the academic world bridging East and West. Indeed, the newly founded Inter-University Centre of Postgraduate Studies became not only a radiating lighthouse but, more important, a modern Platonic Academy of interdisciplinary studies in all fields including theology, the humanities, the natural and technical sciences and a large part of medical areas.

During the first three decades of the IUC, including transition and wartimes, Ørjar and I shared a lot of responsibilities to secure the future of the IUC and made its daily operations feasible. Ørjar was the first chairman of the Council (1972 – 1981) while I followed him in this capacity until 1998. In the years up to 1989 we observed the rule that a course once included into the annual tableau never could be cancelled in case of intervention from outside. Since the late Eighties, we had to defend the IUC against conservative denigration from the part of returning emigrants. At the leading academic and political levels. We always reminded the old maxim put in big letters at Fort Lovrjenac „Non pro toto libertas venditur auro“. Bergen and Hamburg, the Universities in two old Hanseatic Cities, were over a period of half a century the vital pillars to support Zagreb as a great University Center in holding up its huge and honest responsibility for the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik.

It was a joy to meet with Ørjar Øyen in many meetings and conferences at European and international levels. We shared reflection and action to overcome the nasty ditch between East and West in order to create a new spirit of understanding, reconciliation and peace in Europe. According to circumstances not in our hands we were successful beyond expectations. Even with the University of Khartoum in Sudan, our two universities had substantial co-operations. We were deeply saddened that violence returned so disgracefully.


At Ørjars seventieth birthday we met in Bergen in order to present him with the Festsehrift „Society, University and World Community„ edited by Sigmund Grønmo and Bjørn Henrichsen. At this event his modesty had really to stand the test against an overwhelming praise.

We all, a sworn group of supporters of the IUC in his time, including Berta Dragičević and Frank Laubert, send him a last salute. Justice to Ørjar Øyen, gratitude to his devotion, peace to his soul!


Peter Fischer-Appelt