Final examinations for the fall semester took place on December 13-17. The students in the English language program also took their threshold examinations during this week.
The search for a new campus facility continued during the November and December visits by Charles Mast and RACU’s President, John Bernbaum. In recent weeks, the search has narrowed and the staff has gained more clarity on the type of facility needed for RACU. Follow-up work is underway on one of the facilities visited in December, a five-story institute located near RACU’s current headquarters.
Hannes and Annamarie Furter, the head of RACU’s operation in Moscow, left for a six-week home leave to South Africa. This is their first trip home since assuming leadership in Moscow 18 months ago.
The fall semester ended on Friday, December 17; spring semester classes begin on Monday, January 17, 2000.
On Friday, November 5, RACU’s Board of Trustees held their fall meeting in Moscow. In addition to receiving updates on the university’s academic program, the Trustees approved the annual university budget and agreed to rotate locations for future meetings of the Board between Russia and the United States. It was agreed that in the future the fall meetings of the Board would be held in the States and the spring meeting in Moscow. It was also agreed to explore the possibility of using video-conferencing for future Trustee meetings. This Board meeting was also the first in which a representative of RACU’s Student Council was asked to make a presentation.
The administrative staff of RACU proposed a change in the spring 2000 calendar, a change that was subsequently approved by the Board. The decision was made to use a 12-week spring semester, followed by three three-week modules in April, May and June. The reason for this experimental calendar was to take advantage of North American faculty members who are not available for the full semester, but who could come to Moscow for a three-week module.
The decision was also made to shift another part of RACU’s academic program to Moscow State University’s Center for International Education, where our English language classes are currently being offered. A contract was negotiated which doubles our classroom space at the Center. The move will take place in January.
On Saturday, November 13 and 20, Katya Smyslova, President of the Esther Legal Information Center in Moscow and a RACU Advisory Board member, offered a seminar at RACU (in English and in Russian) on “Registration of Religious Organizations and Their Legal Rights.”
RACU’s spring registration took place on November 29-30. Students signed up for 39 courses, 9 of which were new; the spring program will involve 34 faculty, 8 of these professors are new to our university.
This fall RACU is privileged to have a number of visiting North American faculty in Moscow. Peter Wozniuk, a businessman from Iowa with extensive experience in international commerce, is teaching two courses in our business program; this is Pete’s second teaching experience at RACU. Professor Lugene Schemper, a theologian and librarian from Calvin Thelogical Seminary (Grand Rapids, Michigan), is teaching courses in theology and ethics, while Professor Carla Schemper, who has extensive college teaching and counseling experience, is offering courses for RACU’s social work students. The Schempers have been accompanied to Moscow by their two high school-age children, Mark and Anna.
A delegation of three professors from Lee University (Cleveland, Tennessee) visited RACU’s campus and have begun discussions with the Moscow staff concerning exchange programs for their students. Lee University is one of RACU’s eleven U.S. partner colleges and universities.
The facility search process is continuing and several school buildings are currently being examined as possible sites for RACU’s growing program. The goal is to lease or purchase a facility which will house the university’s program for at least the next five-ten years of its development.
32 freshmen were accepted into the university and began their classes on August 30th; 15 are business majors and 17 are social work majors. More than half of the new first-year students are enrolled in advanced English language classes.
37 second-, third- and fourth-year students are currently enrolled in a “total immersion English language program.” This program is being offered in leased facilities owned by Moscow State University’s Center for International Education, facilities located one Metro stop away from RACU’s main campus.
A total of 28 courses are currently being offered at RACU this fall — four English language classes, seven business courses, seven social work courses and ten courses from the general education core.
Through an cooperative initiative with other building partners, RACU has now been able to gain regular access to the Internet and our second computer lab is currently equipped with computers which provide students access to the resources of this worldwide information system. Since “computer literacy” is one of the goals of our educational program, Internet access is an essential requirement for our computer facilities.
Charles Mast, a retired U. S. Foreign Service Officer with more than thirty years of experience in the diplomatic service, mostly in the Middle East and Asia, has accepted the responsibility of heading RACU’s search process for a new campus facility. As “Special Assistant to the President,” he will direct the facility search process and oversee the research and analysis of alternative sites. Mast’s extensive experience in cross-cultural work will serve RACU well in this area.
The search for additional facilities for the university continues. With the assistance of co-brokers, one Western and one Russian real estate company, RACU staff is visiting properties in pursuit of a building for purchase or long-term lease which would serve the university’s needs for 5-10 years.
The second and final setof entrance examinations and personal interivews for the Fall 1999 semester is set for August 17-20. The fourth freshmen class is expected to total 40 students. The first day of classes for the Fall term is Monday, August 30th.
On August 25-27,the RACU staff and faculty will participate in a retreat, which includes professional development workshops led by John Chisholm, a business consultant from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
During the three weeks from July 7 though July 27, RACU offered its final two summer modules for its undergraduate students. Professor Jeff Lehman from Huntington College (Huntington, Indiana) taught a course on “Management Information Systems” for students with advanced computer skills, while Professor Fred DeJong from Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan) taught a course for social work majors on “Gerontology.”
A contract was signedfor the leasing of additional classroom and office space at the International Educational Center of Moscow State University which is located one Metro stop away from our campus. These rented facilities will house the English language program of RACU for the fall semester, a program in which approximately half of our current students will be enrolled. This full-time English language program is designed to equip students to participate in classes taught in English without a translator.
Additional computers are being purchased to equip a second computer lab at the university. Microsoft has graciously given RACU a gift of multiple sets of Windows 98 and Office 2000 for use in the university’s lab and offices.
On Monday, June 14, RACU’s second summer session began. 23 social work students are currently enrolled in a course on “Social Work Values & Ethics” taught by Professor Beryl Hugen from Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan), while 30 business majors are attending a course on “Principles of Finance” taught by Professor John Visser from Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa). These summer courses meet three hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks.
On Tuesday and Thursday nights, beginning on June 15th, Professor Stephen Hoffmann from Taylor University (Upland, Indiana) is offering an evening seminar for three weeks on “Christianity, Politics and Civil Society: Relating Faith to Political Life in Russia and America.” This course is part of RACU’s Continuing Adult Education Program.
On June 22-23, applicants for RACU’s fourth freshmen classwill be taking their written entrance examinations, followed by two days (June 24-25) of oral interviews for those who pass the tests. This is the first of two admissions sessions held by the university during the summer months.
Meanwhile the search for additional classroom and office facilities is underway. The goal of the staff is to secure new facilities sometime in July or early August.
RACU applied and was accepted for membership in the U.S.- Russia Business Council, a national nonprofit trade association composed of more than 250 U.S. companies, U.S.subsidiaries of foreign companies and nonprofit organizations.
On May 14th, RACU’s Board of Trustees met in Moscow and reviewed developments in the Spring semester and plans for the Summer program. The Trustees also discussed the need for additional classroom and office space for the university and various options for meeting the need. In addition, the new academic catalog for 1999-2000 was approved.
The Board also approved the appointments of three new members to the Board of Advisors:The Honorable Sam Brownback, U. S. Senator from Kansas; Mr. Howard Dahl, President of Amity Technology in Fargo, North Dakota; and Mr. Kyle Royer, Vice President for Finance and Administration of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Washington, D.C.
During the week of May 17-21, four three-week summer modules were initiated for RACU students. Three of the courses are being taught by North Americans and one by a Russian. Professor Gary VanderPlaats from Geneva College (but soon to join the faculty at Dordt College) is offering a course on “Financial Accounting,” the second time he has taught this course at RACU. Mr. Dave Radius from Christian Reformed World Missions is offering a course on “Money and Banking,” a course he has taught at several colleges based on his career in the banking world. Professor Billy Lewter from Palm Beach Atlantic College, who has taught extensively overseas, is offering a course on “Theories of Counseling.” Professor Maria Gariachovo from the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University is offering a new course at RACU entitled “Management and Law in Social Work,” a course designed to help our social work majors understand the legal and institutional context for the practice of this discipline in Russia.
Plans for the three three-week summer modules have been finalized. Eight visiting faculty members from North America will be offering courses during the months of May, June and July.
U. S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Dr. Robert Seiple, visited the campus of the university on Wednesday, April 21. Dr. Seiple, former President of World vision, wanted to see the university’s program first-hand and learn more about its mission in Moscow.
Discussions are underway in Moscow with other agencies concerning the possible development of distance education programs for use across Russia. RACU staff has been asked to join these discussions as the possible future provider of educational content.
Two additional staff members have been added to RACU’s Information Technology Department,Sergei Indlin and Sergei Savushkin. Both new staff members have excellent experience in this field and will greatly strengthen the program. The IT program at the university is now run by “the three Sergei’s.”
RACU students have built new supply cabinets and storage areas in our building. These improvements, together with new chairs and tables, have been a welcome addition to the university’s facilities.
RACU students produced the second edition of their own newspaper, which contained information items about the university’s program and updates on student activities for the spring semester.
The cafeteria, under the direction of Alyona Kremorenko, has expanded its food offerings and now also provides drinks and snacks during the entire day from their new portable trolley. The food service has been greatly enhanced and 20 students each week assist in the cafeteria.
The Spring semester began on January 18 with 35 courses taught by 19 faculty members, 13 Russians and 6 North Americans. This was an increase of 9 courses over any previous semester.
RACU’s computer lab was opened this semester with 12 work stations equipped with Pentium II computers networked to a large server. New computer desks were also added. 48 students are currently enrolled in computer classes this semester.
Professor Diane Dow, a specialist in “Teaching English as a Second Language,” spent several weeks in January as a visiting faculty member. She described RACU students as “friendly, witty, and very interactive.” She commented that “it was difficult to leavce RACU. I felt a bond with the faculty and students that is rare in many educational institutions. . . . It was an incredible experience — one I’ll never forget.”
Professor Dow also offered a weekend seminar at RACU for teachers of English while in Moscow.