Rudolph Krejci (Czech: Rudolf Václav Krejčí; 4 March 1929 – 9 December 2018) was a Czechoslovak-American philosopher and professor, who was the founder of the Philosophy and Humanities Programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and founder and first dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1975. In 1997, after 37 years at the university, Krejci became Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Humanities.
Rudy Krejci was born in Hrušky, Moravia (then Czechoslovakia) in 1929. His father, a railwayman, was a Czechoslovak who received his basic education solely in German. His mother was a Moravian-Slovak with Czech education.
Krejci studied at high school in Kroměříž and Brno, where he was introduced to philosophy by professor Antonín Kříž, who translated Aristotle’s work into the Czech language. His studies were terminated on May 1, 1949 due to his membership of an anticommunist dissident student group. Krejčí had to go into hiding in a secret room of his father’s apartment, where he stayed for five years. In May 1954, with the help of his father, he escaped Czechoslovakia hiding in a coffin under a coal wagon covered with vinegar and mustard, and made it to Vienna, Austria. From 1954-1959 Krejčí studied at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, majoring in philosophy, psychology, Russian history and literature. In 1959 he became a Doctor of Philosophy.
Krejci then went to the United States to work as an engineer for Bechtel Corporation and Bethlehem Steel, and in 1960 he was offered a contract to teach Russian and German at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Two years later he established a Philosophy program, and 13 years after that he added a Humanities program. After one year as a dean of Arts and Letters he formed a new College of Arts and Sciences.
Krejci’s career with the university almost ended during a political dispute with former University of Alaska president William Ransom Wood regarding Project Chariot, a scheme by the federal government to detonate up to six nuclear explosions along the northwest coast of Alaska to create a new deep water harbour for future mineral extraction. In response to Krejci’s opposition to the project, Krejci said that “Wood came to me and told me: “If you go on as you do now, there is only one way, one way from Alaska, direct, down to lower states.” As a result of Krejci’s opposition, Project Chariot never happened.
In 2009, Governor Sean Parnell presented Krejci with the Governor’s Awards for the Humanities for “Distinguished Service to the Humanities in the state of Alaska.”