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University of Iowa News Release


April 14, 2008

UI Russian Program selects 11 students for prestigious seminars in Moscow

The University of Iowa Department of Slavic and Asian Languages has named 11 undergraduate students Iowa Russian Scholars. The students will receive scholarships and study abroad funding to advance their Russian language skills.

A two-year $360,000 Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant was awarded to the UI by the U.S. Department of Education and the Russian Ministry of Education, providing the group of students with a total of $25,000 in scholarships for their Russian studies at the UI. The students will also be able to take fully funded study trips to Moscow for three weeks in 2009 and 2010.

The Iowa Russian Scholars are: Michael J. Boland (Dubuque), Stephen Theulen (Council Bluffs), Maxwell Rollins (Davenport), David N. Brown (Des Moines), Phillip McGregor (Charles City), Marina Katsnelson (Vernon Hills, Ill.), Katherine Otto (Ute), Aaron Jacobson-Swanson (Ames), Robert A. Scott (Mount Pleasant), Heather McMullan (Postville, Iowa), and Will Driscoll (Le Mars).

The scholars identified numerous ways the scholarships will help them. Rollins intends to become a doctor and perform charity work in Russian-speaking countries, while Theulen and Scott believe the language skills could help them secure jobs in the Foreign Service. Driscoll, who is pursuing degrees in Russian, political science and economics, wants to work in U.S.-Russian relations, and McMullan believes the experience will help her law career.

After completing an intensive "Russian for Special Purposes" at the UI to master the language at high-intermediate levels, the UI students will travel to Moscow in March 2009 and 2010 to study the socio-linguistic and cultural environment of Russian academic and professional systems. Following the intensive seminars in Moscow, they will take a Russian language proficiency exam, striving for scores that will allow them to enroll as foreign students in Russian universities.

Upon completion of the program, FIPSE Iowa Russian Scholars will be encouraged to continue specialized studies in business, economics, science and global health at the Plekhanov Academy and other leading Russian institutions of higher learning. They will have opportunities to launch professional careers as interns in Russian or U.S. companies involved in bilateral business collaboration.

Federal grants totaling nearly $600,000 were awarded to three U.S. universities this year under the Department of Education's new "United States - Russia Program: Improving Research and Educational Activities in Higher Education."

"These grants provide a unique opportunity for the U.S. and Russia to collaborate on research in language, energy, health sciences and advanced energy technologies," U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said in an October press conference in Moscow. "The challenges we face on these critical issues are too complex and global for any one nation to tackle alone."

The grant awarded to the Department of Slavic and Asian Languages and its Russian partner the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics in Moscow supports the design of a specialized program that teaches Russian and English language skills for professional use. The project aims to increase the number of U.S. professionals with advanced Russian language proficiency and creates advanced English language modules for Russians studying U.S. economics, education and business. Margaret H. Mills, professor and chair of Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the principle investigator for the UI.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070,