In September 2016, I began my term as director of the CSEES. I had served for many years on the CSEES Advisory Council, participated in a variety of committees and activities and attended many events sponsored by the center. Thus, I was familiar with how CSEES functioned and the scope of its work. However, in my new role, I am only now beginning to fully appreciate the magnitude of that work and its beneficial effects at Ohio State and beyond.
This Area Studies Center engages numerous faculty members from across campus, and in other higher education institutions, who teach and conduct research on the Slavic, East European, Russian and Eurasian region. We have approximately 80 faculty at Ohio State affiliated with the center and we provide small grants to scholars and teachers in several other institutions to seed courses and activities focused on the region. We offer the MA degree to students who are interested in jobs in the Foreign Service, with transnational NGOs, government agencies and in public service. We engage local schools; our outreach coordinator, Kathryn Metz, is teaching an East European culture course at Columbus North International School. We also conduct summer workshops for K-12 school teachers. We have two relatively new programs, the Polish Studies Initiative and the Slovene Research Initiative, which allow us to bring exciting speakers to campus, engage in faculty exchanges and study abroad programming. And we provide several small grants for faculty and students who are interested in research and language study in the region.
All of these programs and initiatives take a great deal of thought and coordination and I am immensely grateful to have a fabulous staff — Eileen Kunkler, assistant director; Kathryn Metz, outreach coordinator and Maryann Walther-Keisel, office coordinator — with whom to work on these important activities.
In April 2017, CSEES will be sponsoring once again the Midwest Slavic Association Annual Conference and I look forward to seeing many of you there.
In the months to come, I intend to build on the excellent programs and initiatives we have in place and to develop additional activities as well as seek new sources of funding. It is indeed a pleasure and an honor for me to be leading the efforts of this highly successful center.