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UW-Eau Claire to Host
Two Visiting Professors
MAILED: Nov. 16, 1999|
Students studying economics and art at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will gain an international perspective on issues in their fields thanks to two visiting guest professors who will join the faculty in those departments during the spring semester.
Roman Propkopenko of Belarus and Nino Khutsishvili of Georgia will spend the spring semester at UW-Eau Claire teaching a course, conducting research and shadowing faculty to learn how professors teach at an American university.
"It is important for students at UW-Eau Claire to get some exposure to the kinds of economic problems that they would not normally see," said Dr. Edward Young, chair of UW-Eau Claire's economics department. "Having a professor from Belarus is a great opportunity for them to have this kind of diverse exposure.
"Also, having a professor from Belarus come to UW-Eau Claire will introduce him to the kinds of economic and learning that students and faculty here experience. This will help the Soviet Bloc's transition to an open society with an open economy."
The two visiting scholars will return to their home countries for the summer and fall sessions, then come back to UW-Eau Claire again in the spring of 2001. While in their home countries, they are expected to introduce new materials, courses and methods into their curriculum, experimenting with and refining materials and methodologies learned here.
"The program is designed to give fellows an opportunity to improve course materials and learn alternative teaching methods by working with a U.S. faculty mentor," according to Carol Tegen of the Open Society Institute. "Additionally, the program gives U.S. faculty an opportunity to impact the academic development of their field in the international academic community."
The program is spread over two years in the hopes that it will create stronger ties between the home and host departments, as well as among individual faculty members and visiting professors, Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education, said, noting that it also allows the visiting faculty to quickly test and share new ideas with their home institutions.
A new program sponsored by the Open Society Institute, UW-Eau Claire was among the 10 U.S. universities selected to participate in the Faculty Development Fellowship Program. The host universities must provide a faculty mentor, workspace and access to campus resources. OSI pays all other costs associated with the positions.
UW-Eau Claire is the perfect place for these faculty because it is a quality institution but not so large that the visiting scholars would get lost in the crowd, Markgraf said.
"The project will do much to bring an international dimension to our campus, and to help develop UW-Eau Claire's connections abroad," Markgraf said, noting that the visiting faculty come from countries that are newly independent from Soviet rule. "But we also want to be able to welcome them, take them in and teach them how an American university works."
The process used to select the visiting professors is rigorous, ensuring that only the top scholars from those countries will be chosen, Markgraf said. It's likely that the visiting faculty will be the education leaders of tomorrow in their home countries, meaning UW-Eau Claire is helping influence the future of education in other parts of the world, he said.
"To these faculty and their home universities, this is a giant deal," Markgraf said of being chosen to participate in the program. "It's easy for Americans to lose sight of what a real opportunity it is for someone in this part of the world to spend time at an American university. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for these people."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 16, 1999