Director’s Notes—Autumn 2015

By Dr. Joseph Brandesky

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends of Slavic Studies,

This is my first opportunity to share some highlights from the many good works supported by CSEES. First and foremost, I am most grateful to inherit the leadership of the center from a dynamic and talented scholar/administrator. Yana Hashamova served as director for seven years and guided it to the most recent Title VI grant award. I was very fortunate to serve as associate director during the writing/preparation of the grant proposal and learned what an arduous process it can be. Most importantly, I witnessed the careful thought and strategic thinking that was applied by Professor Hashamova in the crafting of the proposal. As a direct result of her hard work and determination, I am inheriting a position supported by an excellent plan and dedicated staff. Inspired by her example, I hope to continue and extend the center’s tradition of excellence during my time as director.

I failed to note the timing of my appointment until a month after coming onboard: this is the 50th anniversary of continuous activity for the Center for Slavic and East European Studies. Maryann Walther-Keisel’s short essay marking the occasion of our 50th anniversary helps trace some of the shifting perspectives faced by the center in the recent past as well as its current work locally, and across the country. I’m sure Maryann is known to many of you, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure, suffice it to say that she is the “institutional memory” of the center, and as such, is a very valuable member of our team.

Any future incoming director for the center will be considered lucky if they have as capable an assistant director as Eileen Kunkler. She is adept, hard-working, with an eye for detail that is essential when dealing with grants. I am very grateful for her patience and diligence as we worked through my first term as director. We were ably assisted in these efforts by our outreach director, Anthony Adame. A recent graduate of the center’s MA program, Anthony has done well keeping on top of the many CSEES sponsored activities (102 last year). Anthony was recently hired by an NGO in California. We will miss him, but congratulate him for moving on to the next step in what we hope will be a long career.

All of us who work at CSEES invite you to become a part of our team through your continued support of our initiatives, programs and activities. Please plan to join us for the Midwest Slavic Conference this spring when our keynote speaker will be Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University.

Wishing you all the best from Oxley 303,

Joe Brandesky