President’s Message December 2016

By Kevin M. F. Platt

In Support of the European University at St. Petersburg

This will be my last column as president of AATSEEL, before the dynamic and capable Mark Lipovetsky takes over in the new year. It has been a privilege and a pleasure working for our Association these past two years, as the Association has planned its transition to a new conference timing and format. I am very excited to see you all in February in San Francisco for our first meeting in the new configuration. (I can add, the high volume of registrations for the conference so far, as well as the hard work of the conference planners, all point to a successful and dynamic gathering.)

Of course, these years have also been times of growing complexity in the region of the world we study, as a result of the ongoing transformation of public life in Russia and the political and military projection of those processes on its neighbors. I would like to take the remainder of this column to address a troubling situation that attests to the continuing complexity of the Russian situation and offer a statement on behalf of the Association.

The European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP), which is among Russia’s leading institutions of higher education, has recently been sanctioned by the Russian state oversight agency for higher education, Rosobrnadzor, for ostensible violations of administrative standards and regulations. AATSEEL stands in full solidarity with the EUSP, its administration, staff and students, as they seek to eliminate any possible lapses identified by the agency, and in their legal defense of the institution and its mission.

The European University at St. Petersburg is unquestionably a leader in Russia education and scholarship. Its professors are globally recognized authorities in a range of social-scientific and humanistic disciplines, whose publications appear in the most visible and highly rated scholarly journals and presses of the world. The graduates of the EUSP go on to become important and productive professionals in business and government, and also to pursue careers as successful scholars in their own right at other leading institutions in Russia and elsewhere. The EUSP’s programs for foreign students are among the most important centers offering the riches of Russian scholarship and culture to the world.

In all of this activity, the EUSP is one of the most important institutions presenting Russian scholarship to the world and interpreting global scholarly life for Russia, contributing in this way to global communication and mutual understanding.

This makes the recent administrative actions of Rosobrnadzor, which have placed the functioning of this extraordinarily valuable institution in question, highly regrettable. With this statement, therefore, AATSEEL expresses complete support for the EUSP and urges the Russian state and its agencies to work with the institution to overcome any regulatory concerns that might impede its important educational and scholarly work.

Kevin M. F. Platt

University of Pennsylvania

AATSEEL President 2015-16