Gift of $100K to support collaboration between Penn State and Ukraine

May 23, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State programs that foster collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences and agricultural universities in Ukraine will get a boost as the result of a gift from a local family.

George and Nina Woskob, of State College, have pledged $100,000 to support the Woskob Ukraine New Century Fund, an endowment established by George Woskob's parents, real estate developers Helen and Alex Woskob.

Created in 2006, the Woskob Ukraine New Century Fund is designed to promote partnerships, build institutions and create networks of support for agricultural entrepreneurs and industries as the foundation for a democratic and market-oriented Ukraine. The endowment also supports faculty development programs, graduate assistantships, conferences and exchanges with universities and businesses in Ukraine.

"Ukraine is facing internal and external challenges as it works toward reestablishing the rule of law and true democracy," George Woskob said. "In order to renew the hope of the Ukrainian people, our family would like to provide needed assistance in the areas of economic reform and agricultural research. Nina and I can help with economic reform by supporting Penn State's extraordinary agricultural faculty and resources.

"As a key industry for Ukraine, agriculture is a cornerstone for a robust, market-based economy," he added. "Research and education in agricultural sciences, natural resources management and bioenergy are keys to innovation. Our new investment illustrates our commitment to a strong, independent and democratic Ukraine."

In particular, the Woskobs' gift is aimed at enhancing the Woskob International Research in Agriculture, or WIRA, program, one of the initiatives sponsored by the family's Ukraine New Century Fund.

The WIRA program brings two to four scholars from Ukraine to Penn State each year during the fall semester to study educational methods, take and co-teach courses, establish links with Penn State researchers and promote study-abroad opportunities for undergraduate students. The program is open to full-time faculty members at all Ukrainian agricultural universities.

The new funding will enable more young Ukrainian scholars to participate in the program and will strengthen connections between Penn State and institutions in that country, according to Deanna Behring, director of international programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"The ability to feed its population is critical for any country to remain self-sufficient and compete in a global economy," Behring said. "As a result of the Woskobs' generosity, we can look forward to enhancing the linkages that will help Ukraine improve its food and fiber system, while enriching the international experiences of faculty and students in both countries."

George Woskob is a 1976 graduate of Penn State with a bachelor's degree in marketing. He and his wife, Nina, own GN Associates, an apartment rental and management firm in State College.

Natives of Ukraine, Helen and Alex Woskob are founders and co-owners of State College-based A.W. and Sons Enterprises. Since 1963, they have developed numerous real estate projects in Centre County, including housing for thousands of Penn State students.

The family has a long history of support for higher education. In 1992, Helen and Alex established the Ukrainian Agricultural Exchange Program, enabling collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy. They have been involved in the University's Ukrainian Studies program and have served on the advisory board of the Centre for Ukrainian Agriculture.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 23, 2014