Afad Gurbanov’s Role in Restructuring the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical Institute

For sixty out of the eighty years of his life, Afad Gurbanov was involved with the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical Institute (i.e. Azerbaijani State Pedagogical University). He had a great and highly respected career, rising from student to rector. At the Pedagogical Institute, Gurbanov spent time as an undergraduate student, postgraduate student, teacher, lecturer, professor and assistant dean. He served as the dean for three years, chair administrator for thirty years, and rector for nine years. He also chaired the defense council for philology and pedagogical sciences.


During the thirty years he headed the Azerbaijani linguistics chair, Gurbanov committed his intellect and thinking to resolving the latest and most pressing problems. He tirelessly demonstrated his individual qualities for original scientific thought. He was the model of an experienced education professional and was able to resonate a positive influence around him. Gurbanov expanded the chair’s scientific potential and raised its research work to the level of modern scientific requirements. In 1986, under the auspices of the chair, the nation’s first Center for Onomastic Science was established. This center later became a laboratory for scientific research problems. It is a testament to Gurbanov's work that, within 10 years, 8 employees of the chair he led defended their doctoral dissertations, received doctorates in philology and became certified as science professors.


During the time he served as the dean of the faculty of philology, Gurbanov demonstrated his superior skills in educational organization. The faculty received a variety of awards and the Institute won the Kechiji Red Banner on several occasions.


During the time he was rector of the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical University and a member of the Presidium of the Council of Rectors of Azerbaijani Institutions of Higher Education, Gurbanov focused more on expanding higher pedagogical education. Not only did he demonstrate special organizational skills in this area, he also analyzed many specific theoretical problems in higher pedagogical education in Azerbaijan.


During his leadership, the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical Institute was completely re-organized. New chairs and faculties were created. Instruction rose to new and higher levels. The work of the Defense Council on Pedalogical and Philological Sciences, which he chaired, under went a qualitative renewal. Moreover, multi-storey classroom buildings were constructed and major repairs were performed on dormitories. During this time, the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical Institute became one of the leading institutions of learning not only within Azerbaijan, but the entire USSR.


National leader Heydar Aliyev visited the Azerbaijani State Pedagogical Institute in 1982 and praised the work that Gurbanov was doing. He presented the Institute with a commendation from the Presidium of the Azerbaijan SSR Supreme Soviet and pinned on the Institute’s Order of the Red Banner of Labor.


Heydar Aliyev supported Gurbanov’s initiative to train the nation’s military personnel and, during the 1980’s, the first military college in the Caucasus, and fourth in the USSR, was established. During the time that Gurbanov served as rector, this college maintained a first-rate operation. It had been provided a full complement of equipment and materiel, and the first 150 graduates in the republic’s history received military commissions.


As if he sensed the impending danger, Afad Gurbanov strove to do everything he could to prepare the Azerbaijani people against aggression. And, in time, the magnitude of Gurbanov’s contributions in this arena became clear. It was the graduates of this college -- some of whom were decorated as National Heroes -- that selflessly fought the battles for Karabag.


Afad Gurbanov's remarkable capacity for prolific work, his contributions to science and pedagogy, along with his skills in public service and administration were a truly exceptional combination of qualities within a single man.