Alex and Helen Woskob (Voskobijnyk), business-people and owners of the AW&Sons apartment rental company in State College, Pennsylvania, have donated one million dollars to the College of Liberal Arts in support of Ukrainian studies at The Pennsylvania State University, according to the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
Two of the Woskobs` children, George and Larysa, are graduates of Penn State, and the recent donation continues the Woskob family`s generous support for the Ukrainian as well as other artistic and cultural programs at the University.
The Woskobs have previously donated significant funds to establish the Penn State Center for Ukrainian Agriculture and have funded other local cultural projects such as the Woskob Family Art Gallery at the Penn State Downtown Theatre.
The Woskobs` son George with his wife Nina, owners of the GN Associates apartment rental and management firm in State College, have also been extremely active in their financial support of cultural activities at Penn State. George Woskob also serves on the advisory board of the Penn State Center for Ukrainian Agriculture.
The latest gift will significantly expand the Endowment for Ukrainian Studies at Penn State and Mr. and Mrs. Woskob hope that others in the Ukrainian community will contribute in the future to increase the scope of the endowment`s activities.
The interest generated by the endowment will primarily support cultural and scholarly activities at Penn State, including the teaching of Ukrainian language and culture; visiting faculty, researchers and scholars; publications and symposia on Ukrainian topics; speakers and performers; student and faculty exchanges; study abroad programs in Ukraine; and other activities that will acquaint the English-speaking world with the best that Ukrainian culture has to offer.
Spearheading the Ukrainian program at Penn State is Professor Michael Naydan, who has been teaching at the University since 1988.
Dean Susan Welch of the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State recently Ukrainian Studies for his "sustained record of scholarly achievement at thehighest level."
Professor Naydan is the author-translator of 13 books and nearly 100 other publications in scholarly and literary journals. His most recent books include annotated translations of Yuri Andrukhovych`s novel Perverzion (Northwestern University Press, 2004) and Viktor Neborak`s The Flying Head and Other Poems (Sribne Slovo Publishers, 2005).
The former won the American Association of Ukrainian Studies translation of the year award (2005) and the latter the poetry book of the year award in Ukraine (2006).
In 1989, Professor Naydan established Penn State`s first Ukrainian culture course, which has been taught uninterruptedly twice each academic year either by Professor Naydan, by visiting scholars such as Oksana Zabuzhko, Mykola Riabchuk, Maria Zubrytska, and Olha Luchuk.
Graduate students from Ukraine have also helped teach the course including Oleksandra Shchur, Oksana Tatsyak, and Roman Ivashkiv, all three of whom have continued their graduate studies in Ph.D. programs at the University of Toronto and at the University of Illinois.
The current course is taught by Olha Tytarenko from Lviv. The culture course began with an enrollment of 15 students when it was first taught and has climbed to as many as 60 students. Most recently, it has been offered to ever increasing numbers of students via the Internet during the spring semester.
The University has also offered a three-semester sequence of Ukrainian language on several occasions-a sequence that was generously funded by the Woskob family during the previous academic year. With the increase in the endowment, plans are to offer Ukrainian language courses on a yearly basis.
Professor Naydan foresees the focus of the endowment to be cultural and contemporary issues that will not duplicate the already good efforts in history and politics in place at other universities.
He sees the Woskob family`s generous donation as a solid beginning and welcomes other donors to establish graduate student teaching assistantships for students from Ukraine, publication and conference funds, and scholarships for students to assist them in attending study abroad programs in Ukraine.
An additional faculty member at Penn State, Dr. Catherine Wanner, has been particularly active in Ukrainian studies and will be working closely with Professor Naydan toward establishing a Center for the Study of Modern Ukraine at Penn State.
Professor Wanner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at The Pennsylvania State University and received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Columbia University.
Her first book, "Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine (1998)," was an ethnographic study of how the nationalist paradigm influenced historiography and cultural politics in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
She is also the author of Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians, Evangelicalism and the Search for Salvation (2007), an analysis of how Soviet-era evangelical religious practices and communities in Ukraine have changed since the collapse of socialism and the introduction of global Christianity.
She is also the co-editor of Reclaiming the Sacred: Community, Morality and Religion after Communism (2007), a collection of essays addressing religion and cultural change in the former Soviet Union.
Her current research project analyzes the transformation of religious life in the Western Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi after World War II and the incorporation of this region into Soviet Ukraine.
Her research has been supported by awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council and the National Council for Eastern European and Eurasian Research.
This news was monitored by the ArtUkraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report.