Professor SLAVKO J. BOROJEVIĆ
(1919 – 1999)
S h o r t B i o g r a p h y
Ivan M. Mihaljević, Stevan L. Petrović
Academician Professor Slavko Borojević, Ph.D in Agronomy, was born on the 21st of November 1919 in the village of Knezovljani, Kostajnica, Kingdom of Serbs Croats and Slovenes and died on the September 19th 1999 in Novi Sad. Slavko Borojević attended elementary school in Petrinja and senior high school in Sisak. He enrolled at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, the University of Zagreb, discontinued the studies because of II world War, to join the National Liberation Army from 1941 to 1945, and graduated in 1947. In June 1948 he was appointed assistant at the Department of Genetics of the same Faculty, where he received Ph.D. degree in 1953. The title of his Ph.D. thesis was heterosis in rye crosses between domestic populations and varieties. He became assistant professor in 1956. In 1957, he transferred to the Faculty of Agriculture in Novi Sad where he was appointed associate professor of Genetics. In 1962, he became full professor. He received additional training in wheat genetics and breeding at the Department of Genetics in Cold Spring Harbor and at the Department of Agronomy and Genetics, University of Minnesota and St. Paul, USA (1951), as well as, at the Institute of Plant Breeding in Bologna and the Institute of Genetics in Rome, Italy (1961). He also made study visits from 1951 to 1988 to many countries all over the world.
Scientific achievements of Professor Borojević have been recognized in the country and abroad. In 1970, he was appointed a foreign member of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Moscow, former USSR. In 1999 he became a member of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Slovakia. In 1977 he received honorary doctorate from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Godolo, Hungary. In 1979 he became a full member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Vojvodina Province and in 1991 a full member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Serbia. In 1986, he was appointed a honorary member of the American Society of Agronomists. In 1969/1970 he spent a year in Egypt, as a UN expert for plant breeding.
During his bountiful professional career, Professor Borojević was an active member and executive in many national and international professional organizations. He was Head of the Wheat Department of the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops in Novi Sad (1957-1975), editor-in-chief of the journal “Contemporary Agriculture” from Novi Sad (1958-1976), Dean of the Novi Sad Agricultural Faculty (1960-1962), President of the Yugoslav Society of Genetics (1973-1978), Rector of the University of Novi Sad (1974-1976), President of the Association of Universities of Yugoslavia (1974-1976), a member of the Board of the European Association of Plant Breeders (1971-1974), a member of the Council of the International Congress of Genetics (1973-1978), a member of the executive boards of the International Wheat Genetics Symposium (1973-1978) and the International Conference on Winter Wheat (1973-1975), Secretary of the Department for Natural Sciences of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Vojvodina Province (1980-1984), President of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Vojvodina Province (1984-1988), a member of the Editorial Board of the scientific journal “Plant Breeding” from Berlin (1980-1994).
Prof. Slavko Borojević was outstanding teacher giving lectures in many courses. Besides Genetics, he taught the course Plant Breeding to graduate students and the courses Introduction to the Methodology of Research Work, Cytogenetics, Quantitative Genetics and Theory of Plant Breeding to postgraduate students. He also lectured at other faculties in Yugoslavia. In 1979 he was a guest lecturer at the University of California, Davis, USA. He supervised a large number of B.Sc. theses, 38 M.Sc. theses and 45 Ph.D. theses, six of the last for foreign students. As a teacher, he invested enthusiasm, teaching skill and responsibility to impart his profound scientific experience into his students. In that way he ensured a lasting future for his ideas and knowledge. He knew how to develop the interest and eagerness in students to become agronomists, members of a humanistic profession tasked with the provision of food for the welfare of the mankind.
Academician Borojević made significant contributions at the national and international level in several fields of research work: genetic study of quantitative traits, theory of plant breeding, development of models of high-yielding wheat cultivars (to be used subsequently for other crops), development of new wheat cultivars adapted to the local agroecological conditions and utilization of their genetic yield potentials, establishment of the Bank of plant genes and improvement of wheat production. As a result of his research work, Slavko Borojević published 140 research and technical papers, 30 of these abroad, and presented 30 papers (many of these as an invited speaker) at scientific and professional meetings in the country and abroad. He wrote several handbooks of lecturing notes and seven books of which three had second edition. He was also a co-author of several monographs. His most important books are: Genetics (with his wife, Katarina Borojević), published in 1971 and 1976, Methodology of Experimental Research Work, published in 1974 and 1978, Principles and Methods of Plant Breeding, published in 1981 and 1992, Genetic and Technological Changes that Transformed Plant Breeding, published in 1983. The book Principles and Methods of Plant Breeding was translated in Russian (Kolos, Moscow, 1984.) and English (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1990).
Academician Borojević is the principal author and a co-author of : 92 high yielding winter wheat, 19 spring wheat cultivars and one winter triticale cultivar. These cultivars had a considerable impact on the wheat production in Yugoslavia. They were grown at 5-50% of the national wheat acreage, and some of them were registered and grown in several European countries. The genetic yield potentials of these cultivars were over 10 t/ha and they significantly increased the national average yields and the total volume of wheat production. The results achieved in wheat breeding make Professor Borojević one of the most successful wheat breeders in Yugoslavia. Because of his personal influence on the approach to plant breeding in Yugoslavia and especially in the Vojvodina Province and Novi Sad, he is considered the founder of the Yugoslav school of plant breeding.
Professor Borojević was not only a successful teacher and prolific researcher. He was very active in popularization of agricultural sciences (especially Genetics and Plant Breeding), by writing articles in journals and newspapers, giving lectures or taking participation in radio and television programs. He was also an enthusiastic extension officer, working on wheat production improvement at numerous agricultural combinates and with technical services from all parts of the country, making his extensive knowledge and experience available to agronomists and teaching them how to achieve high and economic yields of wheat.
Academician Borojević has always payed a great deal of attention to collaboration with foreign scientific institutions and scientists. He realized this via bilateral research projects (two with the USDA), education and specialization of foreign candidates in Yugoslavia (8 of them from different countries), visits of foreign high repute experts in Yugoslavia (more then 30 of them), participation in study trips and scientific meetings, publishing cooperative scientific papers etc.
Professor Borojević is the recipient of high military decorations and peacetime awards: Certificate of Service 1941-1945, Medal of Partisan Star 3rd order (1945), Medal of Valor (1945), Medal of Brotherhood and Unity 1st order (1946), Medal of Merit to the People 2nd order (1948), Medal of Work 1st order (1961), October Award of the City of Novi Sad (1961 and 1971), 7th of July Award of SR Serbia (1967), Vojvodina Liberation Award (1974), Gold Medal Mihajlo Pupin (1974), Award of the Antifascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (1975), Medal of the Republic with Golden Wreath (1982). He is recipient of The first Nazareno Strampelli prize for scientific and historical research in agricultural field in occasion of The Centenary of Nazareno Strampelli Green Revolution, Rieti, Italy, 2000.
Professor Borojević holds an important and unique place in the fields of work he covered. His name is a symbol for new principles in the teaching and application of the agricultural science, the principles that have already proved their lasting value. He developed and initiated a novel organization of research work in wheat genetics and breeding and he insisted on the need for permanent innovation and update of teaching plans and programs. He established and managed the post-graduate studies and advanced training programs at the Agricultural Faculty in Novi Sad, he was among the founders of the Society of Geneticists of Yugoslavia and he participated in the launching of multidisciplinary research projects at the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Vojvodina Province. A skillful leader, he commanded undisputed authority, teaching skill and influence on the people around him. Only the leader of such charisma could transform his enormous scientific and teaching energy into a life-long project, and this is why the results he achieved are so extraordinary and far-reaching.
Adapted from “Lives and Work of the Serbian Scientists” Biographies and Bibliographies X, Section II, Edited by Vladan D. Djordjević, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, 2005, pp. 363-410.
Ivan Mihaljev and Stevan Petrović were students and close collaborators of Slavko Borojević. They wrote this In Memoriam for publication in “Lives and Work of the Serbian Scientists”. Sadly, they were not able to see the publication of this text as their lives were cut short. Ivan Mihaljev passed away in 2003 and Stevan Petrović in 2004.
We are forever in their debt.