Sonja Bata, Long-Serving Member of the TBU Board of Governors, Died

We are deeply saddened to announce that Mrs. Sonja Bata, member of the TBU Board of Governors, died at the age of 91.

Sonja Bata was the founder and Chair of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, she was sitting on the Board of a number of educational institutions or public-benefit corporations. From 2008 she served as a member of the TBU Board of Governors, and in 2012 she was awarded the TBU honorary degree.

“Mrs. Bata was an extraordinary person; her name and her lifetime work are renowned all over the world. Our University had the great honour of having this lady as a member of our Board of Governors, thus having an opportunity to take advantage of her valuable advice,” said Petr Sáha, TBU Rector.

Sonja Ingrid Wettstein was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1926. She studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and planned to become a world-renowned architect; however – then she took the decision to marry Thomas J. Bata in 1946 and so, instead of becoming an architect, she would become the first lady in the footwear business, focusing on the post-war development of the international shoe organization located in Canada. Together they raised their daughters Monica, Christine and Rosemarie, and son Thomas George.

Their common life, dedicated to intensive work for the shoe-making company, involving business trips all around the world and focusing on the development of a great number of non-profit activities, was interrupted by the death of Thomas J. Bata after sixty two years of marriage.

Thomas and Sonja Bata supported the idea of establishing a university in Zlín from the very beginning. After her husband’s decease, Mrs. Bata supported the development of international activities of TBU and helped to build the reputation of the University abroad by the implementation of lecture series on Responsible Capitalism.

Mrs. Bata received numerous prestigious honours and awards throughout her exceptional life for her lifelong achievements. She was appointed the Officer of The Order of Canada, which is Canada’s highest decoration, and an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy. She also received a number of honorary doctorates from various universities as well as a medal from the United Nations for her environmental work.


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