This weekend, Kansas University’s Center for Russian and East European and Eurasian Studies will celebrate 50 years of offering courses in culture, language and area studies training.
Edith W. Clowes, director of the center, said that it had progressed a long way in its 50-year history. Today the program has expanded from its beginnings with just one faculty member to one with 64 different faculty members.
Now the center works with the U.S. Army in Fort Leavenworth to train military officers who will work abroad. The center also helps prepare students for other careers such as international law, government and business.
Cultural understanding and foreign language skills are often critical to those careers, Clowes said.
Alumni will be welcomed back to campus Friday at an afternoon reception at Bailey Hall.
On Saturday the center will host a conference focusing on the contributions of CREES and other area studies programs. Alumni who will give presentations at the event include: Brig. Gen. John C. Reppert, dean of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies; Karen Uplinger, city judge of Syracuse, N.Y.; Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation in Washington; and Col. Thomas Wilhelm, director of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth.
Bart Redford, assistant to the director of CREES, helped organize the event, and as an alumnus himself, he said he was eagerly anticipating the weekend.
“For me, I’m really looking forward to seeing some people I haven’t seen in a long time” and catching up on where everyone has gone and what they’ve done, he said.
Moving forward, the center hopes to continue to support and expand KU’s already robust foreign language program, Clowes said.
“We will be one of the pillars in creating a new KU language center,” she said.