Initiative to create center for agricultural research and education in Ukraine

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences will collaborate with a nonprofit organization and college benefactors to create a center aimed at advancing agricultural science and technology in Ukraine.

With $20,000 in seed funding from the Woskob New Century Fund, Penn State will work with CRDF Global to establish the Research and Education Center for Agricultural Technologies in Ukraine. CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration, will lead the creation of the center, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

"The Woskob New Century Fund is pleased to help catalyze this new cooperation between Penn State and CRDF Global. This is an important step toward the integration of research and education in Ukraine that will enable its agricultural scientists to make enduring contributions to the nation's recovery," said Woskob family spokesman George Woskob.

"The Woskob family is committed to supporting Ukrainian researchers and innovators -- and by extension the Ukrainian people -- at this extremely challenging time," he said. "Agriculture always has been an important pillar of the economy, and developing and adopting new agricultural technologies and practices will be critical to Ukraine's restoration."

The announcement of the funding follows a visit by Serhiy Kvit, Ukraine's minister of education and science, to California in February, facilitated by CRDF Global. Minister Kvit spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, at Stanford University and at the San Francisco World Affairs Council.

Kvit's visit drew attention to the difficulties facing Ukrainian scientists and technology innovators, including a dire economic situation, greatly diminished funding, separatist military activity that has displaced universities and research institutes from the eastern part of the country, and the need for widespread reform of the Ukrainian higher education system. It also enabled the minister to learn more about successful higher education models in the U.S.

CRDF Global, through its Kyiv, Ukraine, and Arlington, Virginia, offices, will manage a competition to select the host university for the new center and enable its development. Enhancing research capabilities in universities is a top priority for the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science.

Working with the ministry, CRDF Global will help ensure that the center incorporates these reforms. The partnership with Penn State will help provide curriculum improvement and agricultural extension capabilities for Ukrainian researchers at the center and support exchanges of faculty and students.

CRDF Global previously has partnered successfully with the Ministry of Education and Science to create two university-based research and education centers. The Research and Education Center for Geotechnical Systems Stability at the National Mining University, located in Dnipropetrovsk, was established in 2007. The Research and Education Center for Nanomaterials in Energy Generation and Accumulation Devices at Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University in Ivano-Frankivsk was established in 2009 with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Both centers are still operating well beyond the conclusion of CRDF Global funding.

Penn State began collaborating with Ukraine in 1992 when the Woskob family, with roots in Ukraine, helped open the door for an educational exchange program. Since then, the College of Agricultural Sciences has developed relationships with eight agricultural universities in Ukraine.

In 2006, the Woskob family established the Woskob New Century Fund for Ukraine, an endowment that bolsters the University's commitment to fostering connections between Pennsylvania and Ukraine. The endowment promotes partnerships, builds institutions and creates networks of support for agricultural entrepreneurs and industries as the foundation for a democratic and market-oriented Ukraine. It supports faculty development programs, joint research, graduate assistantships, conferences and exchanges with universities and businesses in Ukraine.

"CRDF Global is grateful for the generous support of the Woskob New Century Fund and its ongoing support of Ukrainian science. We also commend Penn State for its enduring commitment to Ukrainian agricultural scientists and its willingness to engage in cross-border collaboration with these highly talented and accomplished researchers," said Cathy Campbell, CRDF Global president and chief executive officer.

"The support of the Woskob family has for years created strong bonds between Penn State and Ukraine," added Deanna Behring, director of international programs for Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "We are excited that they have chosen to help us embark on this new phase of activity that will create a lasting institutional capability in Ukraine."

To learn more about contributing to the creation of the Research and Education Center for Agricultural Technologies in Ukraine, contact Marilyn Pifer at mpifer@crdfglobal.org.

Established in 1995, CRDF Global promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training and services. CRDF Global has nearly 20 years of experience managing international research funding programs and supporting emerging science and technology infrastructure in more than 40 countries in Eurasia, the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

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Last Updated March 26, 2015