Campus Development: On November 29, RACU received news of a grant of a million dollars over five years to be used toward the purchase and renovation of a new campus facility. The same donor has also pledged $50,000 to strengthen RACU’s “friend- and fund-raising” program. These gifts are in addition to several other major gifts received from families and foundations this fall for scholarships and operations, RACU’s information services and the building purchase and renovation fund.
Board Meetings: The Board of Trustees, Advisory Board members, and invited guests met on November 16 in Washington, DC at the offices of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The agenda included updates from board members and administrators on academics, building purchase, spiritual life, finances, accreditation progress and information services. Trustees voted to add an English major in support of the business/economics and social work programs already in place. The Spring Trustee meeting will be held the weekend of May 18-19 in Moscow, in conjunction with the University’s first baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies.
Business Forum: The first event in a regular series of RACU business forums was held on October 31. Ms. Jody Handy, J.D., Vice President for Corporate Giving, Herman Miller Corporation (Michigan), was the guest speaker. She shared the history of the corporation and its commitment to ethical personnel and business practices with over 40 RACU business students, faculty and other invited guests. An excellent, formal dinner was prepared and served by RACU students under the direction of senior business student Alyona Kramarenko.
Taylor Choir: RACU hosted the Taylor (Indiana) University choir for an evening concert on Saturday, October 14, at the beautiful new Catholic Cathedral in Moscow. It was a thrilling and beautiful event, that brought together RACU students and faculty, forty-six Taylor students and their chaperones, and family and friends from many different church denominations. RACU students were invited to join the choir in the singing of “Deep River,” as arranged by Rene Clausen. Guests only finally left he gorgeous hall when the lights were turned off, and many new Russian and American friends were seen exchanging e-mail addresses…..
RACUCIS: Mr. Ron Murphy, Vice President, Knowledge & Technology Management, CNL Group, Inc. (Florida), spent several days on site during October as a consultant to RACU’s technology and information services department. Together with the IT staff, he reviewed current IT projects and plans in light of the overall institutional strategic plans and services. The resulting analysis of obstacles and opportunities is helping to assure that the University is on track to accomplish academic, administrative and service goals related to information services economically and realistically.
A Thousand Words: Susan Clark, Assistant to the President, spent five weeks in October and November following and filming students in their home towns, in their Moscow apartments, at work, and at the University. With the assistance of a professional film crew, editors, and voices from Russian radio and television, two top quality, 15-minute films were created to help give Western audiences a realistic picture of those we serve. “The RACU Story,” and “RACU Leaders: Sveta’s Story” are available free of charge to those who are interested in viewing them and willing to share them with others. To get a free copy, contact Susan at: RACUFriends@home.com
Following the second set of entrance examinations and personal interviews, a total of 39 students have been admitted into RACU’s preparatory and first-year program. Students who did not pass the threshold examination in English will be required to remain in the intensive English language program until they are able to do so. Approximately 12-14 of these new students passed the threshold examination and will be placed in advanced English language classes and in regular first-year general education courses.
The staff and faculty of RACU spent three days (August 28-30) at a retreat center outside Moscow planning for the new school year and participating in professional development workshops. John Chisholm, a business consultant from Champaign, Illinois, served as the principal retreat leader; this is the second time Chisholm has served RACU in this capacity.
Negotiations moved forward on the campus facility during August. A series of important negotiations took place with the Bankruptcy Trustee responsible for the institute building and all indications are positive about the purchase of this facility by RACU, once “due diligence” is completed on the building’s documents. A closing date of October 31, 2000, has been established, if the legal research can be completed by that time.
On July 1, Dr. Larry Ort began his new role as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Executive Vice President of RACU. Dr. Ort has traveled to Russia on six occasions and has spent two sabbaticals teaching in the country. He is leaving his position at Spring Arbor College (Spring Arbor, Michigan) to assume the role of RACU’s academic leader in Moscow. Larry’s wife Judy, who also has considerable experience in higher education, will be working on the development of RACU’s learning resource center and its advising program.
President John Bernbaum and his wife Marge, along with two other couples, hosted a group of 31 guests on a two-week Volga boat trip which began in Moscow and ended in St. Petersburg. This trip, which offered all participants a unique “window” into Russian life, was the second trip of this nature hosted by the Bernbaums.
The search for a campus facility continued in earnest in July and considerable progress was made in negotiations with the owners of a five-story institute building in southwest Moscow.Numerous discussions took place between RACU’s lawyers and real estate agent in Moscow and the building’s real estate agents. A letter of intention has been submitted to the building’s agents and is currently under consideration.
Beginning with the fall semester in August 2000, RACU will have a new Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Larry Ort, directing the university’s academic programs. Dr. Ort, who has visited Russia six times and has taught in Russia on two occasions, is an experienced educator with excellent managerial skills and a solid knowledge of Russia. Ort recently taught at RACU during the spring semester, while on sabbatical leave from Spring Arbor College, and the college graciously agreed to release him when he was chosen for RACU’s academic leadership position.
The third set of three-week modules, which ran from June 12 throgh June 30, completed RACU’s spring semester and classes are now in recess until late August. Professor Billy Lewter (Palm Beach Atlantic College, Palm Beach, Florida) returned to Moscow for his second guest lectureship and taught a course on “Theories of Personality.” Professor Janice Powell (Taylor University, Fort Wayne, Indiana) taught at RACU for the first time and lectured in her specialty which is “Gerontology.” Two courses were also offered in business: Larry Powell, a businessman and CPA (Fort Wayne, Indiana) taught “Managerial Accounting,” while Mark Harris (Ryazan, Russia) taught the entry level accounting course in “Financial Accounting.”
From June 27 through July 10, John and Marge Bernbaum will be co-hosting a group of 31 friends from the States who will be particpating in a Volga boat trip which begins in Moscow and ends in St. Petersburg. The group will visit the university on the second day of their trip. The other two co-hosts are from Deyneka Russian Ministries and Overseas Council International. This is the second trip on which President Bernbaum and his wife have served as co-hosts. Plans on underway for a third trip next summer.
On Friday, May 12th, RACU’s Board of Trustees held their Spring meeting. The highlights of the meeting were the approval of the budget for 2000-2001, the authorization to begin the development for a Center of Information Services under Furter’s leadership, the approval of a new statement of Trustee responsibilities, and the appointment of Dr. Alexei Bodrov, Rector of St. Andrew’s Biblical Theological College to RACU’s Advisory Board
Beginning on May 17th, the second set of three-week modules began at the university. Professor Larry Ort taught a course on “Organizational Behavior,” while Visiting Professor Jonathan Warner (Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa) offered a course on “Transitional Economics,” the first time this course has been taught at RACU. Social work students were also given two course options: Visiting Professor Tim Boyd (Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York) offered a course on “Human Sexuality,” while Visiting Professor Joan Borst (Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan) taught the “Social Work Practice” course.
The search process for a new campus facility continues under the direction of Charles Mast, Special Assistant to the President. A five-story institute building is under serious consideration at this time, if the legal complexities related to its status can be sorted. Meanwhile more than 80% of RACU’s courses are now being offered in leased classrooms at Moscow State University’s Center for International Education.
The 12-week Spring semester comes to an early conclusion on Friday, April 7, and the following week is devoted to final examinations. Then, on Thursday, April 20, the first of three three-week intensive modules begins; these modules involve class three hours per day, five days per week for three weeks. Two intensive courses are being offered in business: Professor Larry Ort will teach “Human Resource Management” and Pete Wozniuk, who will return to Moscow for this module, will offer his popular course on “Principles of Marketing.”
One social work course will be offered in the first module. The course on Marriage and Family” will be taught by Professor Pam Indahl who is also returning to Moscow for the first time since she moved back to the States. Professor Indahl taught courses in social work and the English Department on a full-trime basis for three years and the students are looking forward to her return.
Three additional intensive course will also be offered in April: “Public Speaking” by Professor Tim Kowalik from Northwestern College (St. Paul, MN); “”Christian Perspectives in Learning” by Professor John Primus (Calvin College); and “The History of Russia” by Professor Vladimir Solodovnikov from RACU’s Humanities faculty.
From April 9 through April 16, President Bernbaum, Executive Vice President Furter, and Board Vice Chair Zaichenko will be in Budapest attending a seminar on “excellence in education” sponsored by Overseas Council International.
The university hosted a group of businessmen from Atlanta, Georgia, for a week during March and the “A (Atlanta) Team” volunteered their expertise in real estate, architecture and construction and provided counsel to RACU’s leadership concerning various campus expansion options. The group, headed by Billy Mitchell, President of Carter ONCOR International, a large commercial real estate firm in Atlanta, was comprised of Tom Ventulett, Senior Principal of Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Chris Humphries, a construction expert, and Parker Hudson, President of The Western Group, a real estate firm in Moscow.
The group, which also included Gladys Mitchell and Beth Ventulett, visited various sites in Moscow which included facilities on both the high-end and low-end of the Moscow real estate market. In addition, they helped the staff review its own estimates of space needs and offered counsel on how best to pursue the search for new campus facilities. The search process continues, but now with a sharper focus and clearer definition. The “A Team” also agreed to continue to serve as an advisory group to RACU’s leadership.
Professors Beryl Hugen (Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Carla Schemper (Chicago, Illinois) also traveled to Moscow to undertake a consultation on RACU’s social work program. The central purpose of their trip was to provide counsel to RACU’s faculty and administration on the issue of meeting the Russian Ministry of Education’s requirements for social work accreditation. While the process of accreditation is complex and time-consuming, the group was encouraged by their initial talks with Ministry officials who were impressed by RACU’s social work distinctives, which included an English language requirement, its binational focus, its faith-based curriculum, and its research emphasis.
A delegation of faculty and administrators from member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Univerisites also visited RACU in March and met with the university’s faculty and students for a dinner meeting. The delegation learned about teaching opportunities in Moscow and discussed possible student exchange initiatives.
The leadership at RACU has decided to shift additional university resources to the campus facility leased from Moscow State University’s Center for International Education. RACU’s library is in the process of being moved from its current location to the Center, along with additional administrative staff.
The Social Work faculty at Grand Valley State University in Michigan has agreed to donate over 1,000 books on social work to RACU’s library. The transfer of these volumes will take place during March.
RACU’s Vice President, Dr. Vladimir Obrovets, is currently in discussion with Russian Ministry of Education officials about the accreditation process and what steps RACU must take to initiate this evaluation. RACU’s Board of Trustees has asked its staff to accelerate the accreditation process.
A group of RACU students has formed a musical team and is preparing a program of music for presentation to local community groups and organizations, including hospitals and orphanges.
Final registration for the Spring 2000 semester took place at RACU on Friday, January 14, and classes began on Monday, January 17. The majority of RACU’s classes are now being offered at Moscow State University’s Center for International Education located near the Profsoyuznaya Metro stop in the southwest quadrant of Moscow.
During the Spring semester, two North American visiting scholars are teaching at the university. Dr. Larry Ort, a professor from Spring Arbor College (Spring Arbor, Michigan), is teaching courses in the business program, and Dr. John Primus, a professor from Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan), is teaching two theology courses which are required general education core courses. June Primus, John’s wife, is helping with administrative tasks and assisting in the English Language Department through small group tutoring.
Two RACU students, Petr and Yana Smirnov, traveled to the United States in late January to participate with President Bernbaum in two Overseas Council International Missions Updates at Marco Island, Florida, and Palm Springs, California. These representatives from RACU were invited to “tell the university’s story” and solicit support for RACU’s capital campaign.
A potential campus facility has been identified by RACU staff and is currently being investigated by RACU’s real estate advisors, The Western Group. Legal “due diligence” is currently being carried out by the Coudert Brothers, a leading international law firm with offices in Moscow.