Letter from the Director
Ellison Center Director, Scott Radnitz
Welcome to the 2012-13 academic year and the 65th anniversary of the Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (REECAS) program at the University of Washington. As many of you know, I recently succeeded James Augerot as the new chair of REECAS, and hope to build upon his numerous achievements. It is an honor to be part of 65 years of deep engagement with global scholarship at the Jackson School. Unfortunately, our fall started with some sad news. Professor Herbert J. Ellison, who taught Soviet and Russian history at the University of Washington for 34 years, passed away on October 9. Professor Ellison is warmly remembered as an enthusiastic teacher, an erudite scholar, and a supportive mentor to many students over his long career. The outpouring of well wishes and fond memories are a testament to his impact. You can read a selection of these messages in this newsletter. If you have additional memories you would like to share please send them to the Ellison Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will add them to the tribute page.
To honor Herb Ellison’s memory, we will be holding a lecture series this year on “The Rise and Fall of People Power in Eurasia,” spanning the region to which Professor Ellison devoted his career. The series begins on November 8, with a memorial presentation of Herb Ellison’s achievements and a lecture by Dan Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies. Please join us in the Walker Ames Room in Kane Hall 225 at 7 p.m. A reception will follow.
The Herbert J. Ellison Memorial Lecture Series will also include talks by University of Michigan Professor Pauline Jones Luong on Islam in Central Asia (December 3); UCLA Professor Daniel Treisman on Russia (February 28, 2013); and our own Professor Katy Pearce on social media in Azerbaijan (May 2, 2013). Please mark your calendars and visit our website for more details.
I would also like to take this opportunity to mention a few of my priorities as director. Last April we met with local business, government, and non-profit leaders to discuss how the Ellison Center can better connect with the greater community. They helped us to define some of our long-term goals and establish funding priorities that will strengthen the intellectual capacity of the Center and raise our national profile.
First, we are taking steps to increase the Ellison Center’s visibility both locally and nationally. We are revising our website to make it more user-friendly, and increasing our use of Facebook and Twitter to inform our supporters of Center news and to encourage commentary from our students and faculty on current events in the region. At the national level, the Ellison Center, in conjunction with the Jackson School, will be holding a briefing in spring 2013 at the Kennan Institute in Washington, D.C., on U.S. policy toward Russia. This event will bring together faculty, alumni, and government specialists on the region to enhance our national presence, honor Herb Ellison’s legacy, and forge new relationships in the capital.
Second, we have identified ways for our MA students to develop professional skills. We are establishing a practicum program that will provide graduate students with valuable experience in a professional setting relevant to their studies. Working closely with the Jackson School career office, we have expanded our alumni network to help our students identify potential employers earlier in their graduate career.
Third, we are creating more opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students across campus to incorporate REECAS content into their degrees. With a new graduate certificate and two undergraduate minors in REECAS, as well as a REECAS-track within the Global Health minor, students in other programs can receive formal recognition of their specialization.
And finally, I would like to welcome our new faculty, students, and visiting scholars. Katy Pearce in the Department of Communication is our most recent addition to the REECAS faculty. Her research focuses on technology use and adoption in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which you can learn more about from her interview in this newsletter. Eight students joined the REECAS MA program this year, coming from all corners of the U.S. with varied interests and experiences. In this issue, you can also read about our visiting scholars from Ukraine and Iran. In winter 2013, we will welcome Professor Volodymyr Dubovyk of Odessa National University in Ukraine, who will teach courses on Eurasian and Black Sea security. As we celebrate the Center’s 65th anniversary and pay tribute to Professor Ellison, I will build on the legacies of my predecessors to ensure that the Ellison Center remains one of the leading centers of its kind in the nation. Much of the success the Center is a testament to the incredible scholars, students, staff, and members of the community who have contributed so much of their time and expertise. I look forward to working with you in the coming years to ensure that the Center continues to flourish.
Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Director, Herbert J. Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies