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Release: Immediate

UI opens Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa will celebrate the opening of its new Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES) on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber.

The center, which is designated as a National Resource Center with a three-year, $827,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is one of only 11 of its kind in the country. It will support a wide range of projects and activities in the Colleges of Medicine, Law, Business Administration, and Liberal Arts.

The keynote speaker for the inauguration will be Dr. S. Frederick Starr, a leading authority on Russian affairs. Starr is former president, distinguished fellow and senior advisor on International Programs for the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. He is currently chairman of the Central Asia Institute, School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. Starr also founded the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and is planning a new university to be built by the Aga Khan in Tajikistan in Central Asia.

Also speaking at the event will be David Skorton, UI vice president for research, and Michael McNulty, UI associate provost and dean of International Programs.

The inauguration is open to the public. A reception will follow the speeches.

The new center was developed from the UI's six-year-old bachelor's degree program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. The center will support faculty research and aid in redesigning that program so that it reflects the sweeping changes that have occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"The REEES program has come a long way in a very short time. It is a real tribute to all the UI faculty in the program," said Steven Hoch, director of the new center and professor of history.

The new center is also integrating Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies into the curricula of UI professional schools. Specialized courses are to be developed in journalism and mass communication; business, finance, and marketing; post-communist legal change, law and political conflict, democratization in post-communist states; and comparative health systems. The new center will also bring more visiting faculty from Russia, East Europe, and Eurasia to teach at the UI.

"There is a pressing need in business for people to have specific area-related marketing skills and to be knowledgeable about investment opportunities and accounting practices in emerging markets," said UI Professor of Finance Paul Weller, who directs REEES activities in the College of Business Administration.

The center will also support a group of graduate fellows who are studying languages that are not frequently taught in the United States. This year's fellows include: Julie M. Kirchner, a second-year law student who is studying Hungarian with the hope of pursuing a career in international law/public policy; Robert Thomson, an MBA student who is studying Polish with plans to pursue a career in international business focusing on Eastern Europe; and Roman Terrill, a third-year law student studying Russian, with the hope of pursuing a career in international law, with special emphasis on financial and commercial transactions involving Russian clients and business interests.