Dec 152009
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

When CSU officials brought a clock with the university logo on it into Leonid Kossovich’s Saratov State University office in 2006, he didn’t change it to Russian time.

And Kossovich, who sits at the helm of SSU, which is touted as one of Russia’s top 10 universities, hasn’t changed it since.

On Wednesday, Kossovich delivered a similar gift to Provost Rick Miranda: A blue orb, slightly smaller than a baseball, with an encased ticker clock set on Russian time.

The clocks are a token of the first official operating pact between an American university and a Russian one — a relationship that some officials say is a step in bringing Russian and American culture together.

During the meeting, a group of Russian officials, including two top-level representatives from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s administration, shook hands over the signing of an official agreement for CSU to employ SSU researchers in a new office that will coordinate research and education initiatives between the two institutions.

“None of you chose America as your place of birth, and we didn’t choose Russia as ours,” said Alexey Gordienko, the head adviser for Russia’s Section of Education Policy. “It just happened that way. Today we have said no the border between Saratov State University and Colorado State University.”

The first initiative is a pilot program to compile an electronic database of documents examining the long history of Russian emigration to Northern Colorado for the sugar beet and wheat farming industries, which were integral in the area’s growth.

Further initiatives the partnership is looking at implementing include research on biomedical advances, veterinary science, business administration and computer sciences.

The office was established as a result of two years of collaboration between the universities, after CSU administrators saw the need for teamwork, citing the demographical similarities the two communities share.

SSU also houses an office for CSU researchers to coordinate projects through in Russia.

The Russian university sits on the Volga River in Central Russia, where a large number of sugar beet and wheat industry employees immigrated to Northern Colorado from during the 19th Century.

“They settled here because the ecology is so similar,” said Lou Swanson, the vice provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships.

Boris Rakitin, the vice provost for International Affairs at Saratov State University, said the immigrants were the impetus for the partnership.

“They brought the spirit of Russia, and they were the starting point of our relationship,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

For the last two years, leaders from both institutions have been traveling back and forth for meetings to foster new initiatives through the agreement, but now that both universities have a central location for operations, officials said they will be able to work more closely and efficiently.

“It is necessary to be in constant contact, to have on-land conferences for our researchers, our faculty, our students,” Rakitin said.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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