Corneliu Achiricesei – ‘Mihai Cocuz’ Memorial Scholarship

memoria in aeterna

MIHAI COCUZ (b. July 23, 1939- d. September 30, 1977)

The life of Mihai Cocuz was marked by cruel circumstances from beginning to end. It was a life full of hardship, disillusionment and suffering, but one fully dedicated to teaching the young. Unfortunately for all, this life was cut short at a mere 47 years as the result of a myocardial infarction.

Mihai Cocuz was born in Steoborani, Vaslui County, on July 23, 1939 to poor peasants Gheorge and Maria Cocuz. The harsh poverty of his childhood and early years influenced him profoundly, shaping him into a generous person who always looked out for those around him.

Cocuz began his schooling in Iasi, where he had the good fortune to meet his first mentor and teacher, Mihai Ciobanu, whom he would remember with fond gratitude as the one who instructed and encouraged him to keep on studying no matter what the situation. It was Ciobanu who bought Cocuz his first pen so he could take the exam to enter the Military High School in Craiova.

The Second World War interrupted Cocuz’s studies, but was he able to resume his education at the National High School in Iasi after the war. In the cloudy years post-bellum, he began studying Mathematics at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi, an education he was forced to abandon in his second year after being expelled by the Youth Communist leadership for his anti-Soviet ideas. Years later, he was readmitted, this time at the University of Cluj. In his third year, he was arrested and imprisoned for ten years for the same political ideas. He endured communist prisons from 1957 until 1963, when he was freed under a general amnesty.

In the year of his release, he commenced, for the third time, studies in mathematics at the University in Iasi. In the same year he married Viorica Formagiu with whom he had two daughters, Romana and Petra. He finally finished his studies in 1968, and until his death on September 30, 1977, he dedicated his efforts, passion and, not least, vocation, to his students. He taught, first at the schools in Prisacani and Popricani villages, then at the renowned high schools Economics, Costache Negruzzi and Garabet Ibraileanu, all in Iasi.

For many of his students, Mihai Cocuz was more of a parent than a math teacher. He advised, encouraged and helped many to further their education, passing on his love of learning, self-instruction and culture. He knew, better than anyone else, how much effort, will and perseverence it had taken him to become an erudite, cultured and civilized man. Many of Cocuz’s students became great teachers in their own right – some even in the field of mathematics – and the gratitude they had for him remained evident for years afterwards. Even after his death, these former students would visit his wife and two daughters or regularly write to report about Cocuz’s legacy in the form of their achievements and impact in various corners of the country.

In 1984, Cocuz’s college classmates, many of them mathematics professors at the University of Iasi, collaborated to help publish a posthumous book of mathematical problems that Cocuz had been working on at the time of his death.

Corneliu Achiricesi

Admitted to the Administrative Economics High School nr. 1, Iasi, Iasi County.

First Prize 7th grade (2005-2006) – Grade Point Average 9.79/10

First Prize 8th grade (2006-2007) – Grade Point Average 9.86/10

Mention, Romanian Language Olympics, May 2007.