Kansas University Professor Gerald Mikkelson has won a prestigious Fulbright grant, the U.S. State Department announced this week.
Mikkelson, a professor of slavic languages and literatures, will go to Russia this academic year to teach literature and do research on new Russian writers.
"I'm very happy about this," Mikkelson said Thursday in a telephone interview from his hotel in Washington, D.C. "There are only 25 scholars going to Russia this year, and it gives me a good feeling that I'm among them."
Mikkelson, who has been at KU since 1967, is in Washington to attend an orientation for Fulbright recipients.
He will teach Russian literature at St. Petersburg State University.
Some of his classes may be taught in English, he said, as students there want to improve their proficiency. He also hopes to work with a group of Russians who plan to become professional literary translators of Russian writings into English.
"Normally translation is done from a foreign language into one's native language," Mikkelson said. "There is an excellent opportunity for this group. There is a lot of excellent Russian literature that has not been published in English."
Mikkelson is a scholar of 19th-century writer Alexander Pushkin, who is considered the greatest poet in Russian history and the founder of modern Russian literature. Mikkelson is also a specialist in Siberian literature.
A frequent visitor to Russia, Mikkelson has spent three years in the country in the last decade.
Traveling with Mikkelson will be his wife, Margaret Winchell, and their daughter Jane, 14. Jane will attend a Russian school and Winchell also will be working. After the family's last visit to Russia, Winchell wrote the book "Armed with Patience."
More than 350 students from KU have received Fulbright scholarships. Mikkelson is the 235th KU professor to win a Fulbright faculty award. Nearly 1,000 international faculty and students have come to KU with Fulbright awards.
"I think the outstanding numbers of Fulbright awards at KU demonstrates a commitment of faculty and students to think beyond local and national borders and at the same time attests to the university's commitment to international education," said Diana Carlin, dean of the graduate school and international programs.
The Fulbright faculty award averages $40,000 for an academic year, a State Department spokesman said.