IFSR Newsletter 1985 Vol. 5. No. 1 Summer
In the night from Jauary 1 to 2, while asleep, the longterm vicepresident of the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, member of the Board of the International :ederation for Systems Research, associate editor of Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal, editor of the IFSR-Newsletter and editor of the International Cybernetics Newsletter, Professor F. de P. Hanika, died in his new apartment in Bad Gams, Austria. Professor Hanika was 84 years old.
My cooperation and friendship with Paul Hanika started in 1971. One day, when I was sitting in the (then) only room of the just recently established Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, I received a call from a man who told me that he had just passed by from Khartoum and would like to meet me. Puzzled that the knowledge about our society had already spread so far, I invited him to come right to our office.
He told me that he had just retired from the chair of management science of the University of Khartoum and, though his wife was scottish, they had fallen in love with a nice place in Styria and they were planning to buy some land and build a house where to spend the rest of their life. Most of the rest – because he felt fully active and wanted to help us whereever we could need him.
If we could! We had considered to arrange some kind of a conference of cyberneticians and systems researchers in Austria, both in order to exchange ideas and to spread the “cybernetic seed” in Austria. But we had no experience how to do it. Paul had. Though it was very late, a few months only before the date we had envisioned, he drafted the program, invited chairmen, looked for contributors, and gave a name to the conference: Since we hoped that at least some scientists would come from outside of Austria, “European” wouldn’t be too wrong. And since we were not sure if more than 30 people would come, “Meeting” would suit anyway. Thus, in 1972, the first “European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research” took place, with about 150 participants, coming from more than 20 countries, also outside Europe. From then on, the Meetings took place biennually, thanks to the initiative and the efforts of Paul Hanika. And we decided not to change the name, e.g. to “International Congress” though the meetings had really become international.
It took some time until we learned more from Paul about his life. And it was a really unusual one! Born in 1880 in St. Polten, about 50 kilometers west of Vienna, he was educated in a Jesuit school in Czechoslovakia, he worked in an international timber business company with centers in London, Hamburg, and Vienna. He worked his way up to senior management level, and in 1931 formed his own company, Continental Hardwoods Ltd. 1939 ended this timber business, but soon thereafter he started his second career as production manager of Aetna Steelworks in Sheffield, and added the Diploma in Metallurgy to his accomplishments.
In 1950, the Royal Technical College of Glasgow decided to build up a management school: Paul Hanika seemed to be their right man to join the foundation team. Thus, at the age of 50, Paul Hanika started his third career, staying at Glasgow for 11 years and becoming the Warden of the Residential Centre for Management Studies.
In 1961, at an age where other people only think about their retirement, Paul Hanika again switched his position: He accepted the invitation of Cambridge University to help establish postgraduate studies at its newly founded Churchill College. He was elected a senior member of Churchill College as Lector and Tutor, and awarded the degree of Master of Arts.
And again: When Paul Hanika was 64 years old, he accepted an invitation to go to the Sudan and build the Department of Management Science for the University in Khartoum. Seven years later, B.Sc. and M.Sc. courses were flourishing and a staff of 15 Sudanese was capabable to run the department.
So Paul Hanika, at the age of 71 , could start his next, and as we now know, last career. He not only initiated and ran the European Meetings, he also established the International Cybernetics Newsletter which became part of Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal, the official organ of the Society, published by Hemisphere in Washington, DC. Eventually, 26 honorary scientific correspondents from 18 countries all over the world provided him in his “Gams office” with scientific news. More than that: When in 1980 the International Federation for Systems Research accepted the invitation of the Austrian government to take its seat in Austria, Paul Hanika founded its Newsletter which was sent, 3 times a year, to 4000 scientists.
Paul Hanika was not only teaching management and practising it, ha was also a pioneering thinker in management science. He was one of the first to realise the importance of cybernetics and systems analysis for management: He not only launched the first full-time systems analysis course for managers, his book “New Thinking in Management” established a benchmark in what is now called management cybernetics, being translated into seven languages and published in 3 editions in English. While his intellectual and international stature was honored by the Austrian Federal President who decorated him in 1980 with the Cross of Honour for Science and Arts, First Class, the City University of London awarded him in 1981 with the Degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa for his scientific contributions.
Paul Hanika and his second wife, Alyson, were the ideal partners. When Alyson Hanika died unexpectedly in 1982, we were afraid that he might loose his initiative to continue his work. Due to the care of a lady from Bad Gams, Mrs. Imma Bodirsky, he soon gained his high spirit and continued to work. It was about Christmas, after he had moved to another apartment, that I talked both with him and her about the finalisation of the IFSR Newsletter and the galleys for the next ICNL. He was full of initiative and planned to start with the preparation of the next ICNL on January 2, after New Years Eve.
Not only the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies and the International Federation for Systems Research have lost with’ Professor Hanika one of their most efficient officers, the scientific world has lost him one of the founders of the cooperation of cybernetics, systems science, management science, and operations research. And many of us have lost one of their dearest friends. Paul, we will miss you.
Vienna, January 1985 Robert Trappl
IFSR Newsletter 1985 Vol. 5. No. 1 Summer