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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Higher Ed Leadership In Ukraine in Wartime - KSE President Tymofiy Mylovanov

This past Monday, we had the honor and pleasure of hosting Dr. Tymofiy Mylovanov, the President of the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This was his second visit to UMass Amherst - his first was on February 22, 2023. 

His visit was very timely, as was his lecture,  since we are approaching the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Mylovanov had sent me a message just a few days before his arrival saying that he would like to visit and speak and, despite multiple logistical hurdles and scheduling issues, we made it work.

Leading a university is extremely challenging and leading one in wartime, with success, is extraordinary.

I have had the great honor of serving as a Co-Chair of the KSE of Board of Directors, having been elected shortly after the full-scale invasion. But my relationship with KSE has been over half a decade, since I also serve on its International Academic Board and its Board of Directors. Also, back in March 2022, UMass Amherst and KSE established a partnership, which has further synergized our connections, and is now supporting both exchange students from KSE as well as Virtual Scholars in Ukraine (we will be starting the second round soon) to reduce brain drain.

The leadership exhibited by KSE President Mylovanov is one characterized by: immense care for the safety of his students, faculty and staff; agility in creating new degree programs at KSE; talent in connecting with thought leaders and disseminating the needs and accomplishments of KSE to donors, stakeholders, and the world at large; expanding KSE to include a business school, and supporting the outstanding KSE Institute, which produces many white papers and studies of relevance in wartime that are regularly cited by international media,  plus growing the KSE Charitable Foundation to assist in the financing of humanitarian endeavors in Ukraine. Such important activities require steadfastness, great intelligence, resilience, and ability to get data and information quickly. It also requires innovation and associated thinking under immense pressures and even danger.

What also truly inspires me is his understanding of the importance of not only face to face education but also visiting supporters and donors and advocating for KSE and Ukraine in person.

Below is a photo of Dr. Mylovanov presenting at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst this past Monday.

UMass Amherst issued this nice press release announcing his talk. The UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, in turn, prepared this nice poster, and the students, along with the International Programs Office at UMass and the Isenberg School helped with the logistics.

During his visit, Dr. Mylovanov met with top university administrators, faculty, and students, and also had a chance to chat with guests. At the meeting with the Provost, the VCRE, and the Director of our International Programs Office, Dr. Mylovanov made a statement that I found vey moving and, also, informative. He said that we all will die, so we need to identify what will be our legacy. His, he believes, is building up the Kyiv School of Economics and that is "his mile." He also, when asked, responded to the challenges of being a public persona. He is, above his educational leadership role, also a frequent guest on CNN, BBC and other media and news platforms. He said that he plays a public role because he believes that there are positives and, I believe, his sharing of information and commentary is beneficial not only to KSE but also to those interested in Ukraine around the globe.

I was thrilled to have him emphasize the importance of the partnership between UMass Amherst and KSE and its highly original model of supporting both students, as through the exchange program, and also research since Virtual Scholars in Ukraine are partnered with Faculty Hosts at UMass Amherst. Last year, for example, there were 9 Virtual Scholars in Ukraine working with faculty at the Isenberg School, and 15 Scholars total placed with UMass faculty. We have organized  joint symposia, and have published terrific journal articles and have also had multiple conference presentations based on the collaborations across the miles. The friendships that have been made support the researchers in Ukraine and are enriching to those of us who have the honor of working with them. Some additional information on the partnership can be found here.

Below is a photo of KSE President Mylovanov with two of our KSE exchange students after the lunch on Monday.

The attendance at his presentation at the Isenberg School was excellent, despite a short notice, and also a last minute room change.

The UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter conducted an interview with Dr. Mylovanov and a gift was presented to him. We will let you know when the interview is posted on the Chapter's youtube channel.

It was wonderful to have discussions with him over lunch and dinner and I am very grateful to all the administrators who made time in their very busy schedules to meet with us.

There will be additional media coverage, but many thanks to Daniella Pikman for her article on Dr. Mylovanov's presentation published already in the Daily Collegian.

Below is a collage of photos capturing the highlights of Mylovanov's visit. Thanks to all who took part. And, with a pending snowstorm, we managed to find him a hotel next to Bradley Airport and he caught a 6AM flight to DC on Tuesday morning (his 10AM flight had been cancelled) and made his meetings there in time. Quite a few neighboring universities were closed on Tuesday but not UMass Amherst.

Thanks to KSE President Tymofiy Mylovanov for the extraordinary leadership of KSE in Ukraine! Information on KSE is here.