Thursday, February 22, 2024

Reflection on the 2nd Anniversary of Russia's Full Scale Invasion of Ukraine

Hard to believe that it has been two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation in Europe, on February 24, 2022.

Ukraine and Ukrainians in Russia's illegal, unprovoked war have endured an immense toll in terms of suffering, lives lost, injuries sustained, families separated, plus damages to critical infrastructure, homes, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, cultural institutions, agricultural facilities and land, as well as to nature and the environment. The Ukrainian economy has suffered immensely, exacerbating global food insecurity since Ukraine is known as a breadbasket with its rich chernozem (black soil) and is a big producer of wheat, corn, and sunflower seeds.

Ukrainians everywhere have been affected by this horrific war, which  has also resulted in millions of displaced people. All those on our planet who value freedom, safety, civility, and, of course, democracy continue to be amazed by the courage, tenacity and resilience of Ukrainians and their love for their country.

Incredibly, we are also marking the almost 2 year anniversary of the historic partnership between the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) and the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE). In such historic, very challenging times, one does what one can and UMass Amherst has been visionary in establishing this partnership, so soon after the full-scale invasion. It endures and is flourishing.

In the past year, 15 Virtual Scholars in Ukraine, through this partnership, have worked with Faculty Hosts at UMass Amherst (9 of them based in the Isenberg School of Management). Our collaborations across the miles have synergized research, have built friendships, and have resulted in significant research publications plus conference presentations. 

Just last week, we hosted the second visit of the President of KSE, Dr. Tymofiy Mylovanov, who gave an outstanding presentation on leading his university in wartime. And last spring, we organized a symposium featuring the Virtual Scholars and their Faculty Hosts with the Rector of KSE, Dr. Tymofii Brik, also in attendance. Plus, he delivered a seminar.

What has been truly remarkable this year, is that 4 exchange students from KSE joined us at UMass Amherst. It has been a delight to get to know them and I am deeply grateful to Isenberg School Dean Anne P. Massey for even hosting a lunch in their honor.

And the exchange students spoke on a panel at the Isenberg School about their experiences.

Listen to their interview and be inspired.

Thanks to all who have been instrumental in the success of our partnership from the top administrators to Faculty Hosts and also to the students of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, who have provided their energy and thoughtfulness in helping us to organize many events. 

Last year, I wrote a reflection on the 1 year anniversary.

There has been media coverage of many of our activities and events and we are grateful for the coverage and for getting the messages out. For some examples, please see various postings on the Supernetwork Center website.

A collection of relevant videos can be accessed here.

Some of our research publications with Ukrainian colleagues can be found here.

It has been extremely meaningful for me to have served as a Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of KSE for almost 2 years now as well as being a member of its Board of Directors and International Academic Board with truly amazing colleagues for over half a decade now.

Sustaining institutions of higher education in Ukraine is of the utmost importance and I am so proud of the work that UMass Amherst is doing in this regard. Special thanks go out to my amazing Dean Anne P. Massey and to the Director of our International Programs Office and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Dr. Kalpen Trivedi for their terrific leadership as well as to the support provide by Provost Dr. Mike Malone.

It is high time that all democratic nations give Ukraine everything that it needs in order for it to be able to defeat the evil invaders and occupiers. The future of our planet and our way of life depend on it.