During the latest session, on 29 September 2020, the Senate of the University of Silesia in Katowice initiated the procedure to award the honorary doctorate degree to Jolanta Wadowska-Król – paediatrician, honorary citizen of Katowice who has specialised in heavy metal poisoning, e.g. lead poisoning among children from Szopienice, Burowiec and Dąbrówka Mała in Katowice. That research formed the basis of her doctoral dissertation. However, it was never published, because due to its controversial nature it was blocked by the then university and party authorities, which ‘were afraid of the scientific evidence proving the fact that their clichés about socialist care for ordinary human being will turn out to be nothing but pure propaganda talk’, said Prof. Ryszard Koziołek, Rector of the University of Silesia, during the official inauguration of the academic year. All copies of the doctoral dissertation disappeared and have never been found. No single copy of the work exists.
As emphasized by the Rector in his speech: ‘I think about it with particular intensity these days, when we ask about the importance of the University, when the Prosecutor’s Office interviews our students and employees. A question arises whether the University, scientific research, educational content is to be evaluated by the community of scholars or law enforcement authorities. I thought I would never have to ask this question, but the context of honorary doctorate degree and the story of Dr Jolanta Wadowska-Król painfully reminded me about this possibility. I believe that the University is a place which already now, but also in the upcoming months and years, can and should be a role model for the research community, but also for the democratic community; that here, at the University, we think, say, talk and discuss better than anywhere else.’
However, Dr Jolanta Wadowska-Król’s activity had positive effects – thousands of children affected by the risk of lead poisoning were treated. Moreover, the decision was taken to demolish the houses standing nearest to the steelworks chimney. This contributed to improving the inhabitants’ health and had a beneficial effect on the city’s environmental situation. In March 2015 Dr Jolanta Wadowska-Król was awarded by the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection with honorary badge of merit for the protection of human rights.
The academic community noticed the injustice related to the destruction of doctoral dissertation by the censorship and decided that Dr Jolanta Wadowska-Król should receive the highest distinction. The supervisor in honorary doctorate degree dissertation will be Assoc. Prof. Irena Lipowicz, Sejm (Polish Parliament) deputy in the 2st, 2nd and 3rd term, ambassador of the Republic of Poland in 2000-2004 and Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection in 2010-2015.
Dr Jolanta Wadowska-Król’s activity was one of the subjects of the book entitled „Ołowiane dzieci. Zapomniana epidemia” (Lead children. A forgotten epidemic) by Michał Jędryka.