For Immediate Release
IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund Awards $50,000 To The European Humanities University
Grant supports university’s efforts to rebuild in the wake of attacks on academic freedom.
NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2005 – The Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) has awarded the European Humanities University (EHU) a grant of $50,000 to support the university’s efforts to rebuild as a university-in-exile in Vilnius, Lithuania.
(L-R) EHU Vice-Rector Dr. Vladimir Dounaev; EHU Rector Dr. Anatoli Mikhailov; IIE President and CEO, Dr. Allan E. Goodman
Dr. Henry Jarecki, Chairman of the Scholar Rescue Fund, presented the award to EHU founder and Rector Anatoli Mikailov and co-founder and Vice Rector Vladimir Dounaev at a reception in New York hosted by SRF supporters Dr. George and Mrs. Judy Beraka. Other guests included IIE Trustee and SRF Committee member Thomas Russo, IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan Goodman, SRF Women’s Committee Chairman Denise Benmosche and two scholars assisted by the Fund.
IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund provides life- and career-saving support to scholars who are persecuted in their home countries. The Fund offers grants for these scholars to continue their work at institutions in the US and other safe locales. The Institute launched the unique program in 2002 with the support of IIE Trustees Jeffrey Epstein, Dr. Jarecki and Mr. Russo and a grant from George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The Fund has awarded grants to support more than 80 threatened scholars from 34 different countries. The Scholar Rescue Fund returns IIE to its work in the 1930s when IIE’s Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars helped more than 330 scholars fleeing persecution in Europe.
EHU is a private, European-modeled higher education institution founded in Minsk, Belarus in 1992. The university’s mission is to introduce the ideals of a civil society in Belarus through educating a new generation of professionals in the traditions of independent inquiry, freedom of speech, and evidence-based research.
In 2004, the Belarusian authorities forced EHU to close, claiming the university was wrongly encouraging European values in Belarus. Prohibited from offering degree-related programs in Belarus, EHU transferred its primary administrative and instructional offices to Vilnius, Lithuania, where it commenced functioning as a university in exile (EHU International). In spite of the closure of the university, it continues to maintain a leadership role in non-governmental higher education in the Republic of Belarus, actively promoting East-West dialog, encouraging the development of civil society through education and research based on the principles of democracy and European values. EHU seeks to produce a new generation of teachers and researchers in Belarus.
EHU currently employs 110 faculty members engaged in academic research, distance learning, and direct instruction courses. Currently these faculty members instruct undergraduate and graduate students in 14 academic areas. Hundreds of students have enrolled for fall semester in-person classes, many more than administrators had expected. The university has also maintained its efforts to create a stable network of researchers in the western Eurasian border region to build greater intellectual cohesion among humanists and social scientists region-wide.
The SRF approved a grant this fall after a meeting that Henry Jarecki and George Soros had with Anatoli Mikailov and EHU Board Chairman Dan Davidson earlier in the year. Mr. Soros has been a dedicated supporter of EHU since its inception and urged the SRF to consider ways to assist EHU faculty. At the meeting Dr. Mikhailov shared with the SRF the view that it is not safe for him to return to Belarus under the present conditions, and discussed at length the challenges facing other EHU faculty members who are dependent on the limited support they get for their teaching at the Vilnius campus in exile.
In making the award, Dr. Jarecki commented that “It is the hope of the SRF Committee that the award from IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund will help to sustain EHU faculty in exile and in turn support the university’s efforts to widen the space for open dialog, debate and academic freedom in Belarus.”
According to Dr. Mikailov, “We are grateful for the Scholar Rescue Fund’s support, which will assist in our efforts to secure the resources to sustain EHU over several years in exile, as the situation in Belarus continues to be grave.”
The country remains under US sanctions imposed following a controversial referendum in October 2004 designed to keep the president in office for a third consecutive term. The US has described Belarus as Europe’s only remaining dictatorship. When EHU was forced to shut down in 2004, the US Embassy in Belarus issued an official statement denouncing the government’s actions and pledged to continue “to support efforts by the European Humanities University in this time of adversity to help keep alive its mission of providing high quality, independent humanities education to the youth -- the future of Belarus -- a goal of mutual interest to the Belarusian and American peoples.”
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The Institute of International Education, a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas, was founded in 1919 as an independent, not-for-profit organization. Based in New York with 18 offices worldwide, IIE administers over 250 international education and training programs, including the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Government's premier public diplomacy initiative.
The European Humanities University is a private, European-modeled higher education institution founded in Minsk, Belarus in 1992. The university’s mission is based on the national pedagogic heritage, while also seeking to adapt and incorporate European and American educational traditions. Oriented to high quality training of professional specialists, the university offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in art, economics, law, political and administrative science, social science, and theology, which include opportunities for study at leading universities in the US, Russia, and Europe.
For more information on IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund, visit www.iie.org/srf or contact Sarah Willcox at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-212-984-5588.
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