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Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service
785-864-8852

Media Advisory: KU experts can discuss Ukraine's political, economic crisis

Wed, 02/12/2014

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has experts who can provide insight into the rising tensions surrounding Ukraine’s political and economic crisis.

Since November, Ukraine has witnessed some of its largest political demonstrations in recent history, with thousands of its citizens rallying in support of the country’s further integration with the European Union. Peaceful protests turned to violent clashes with police when the Ukrainian government announced plans to join an economic union with the Russian Federation, then outlawed most forms of assembly and protest. After three months of protracted political standoff, a peaceful resolution seems remote.

KU’s Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) offers one of the country’s leading programs in Ukrainian studies, including the study of Ukrainian language and courses on the country’s history, politics and culture. The following KU professors are available to provide commentary on recent events in Ukraine:

Alexander Tsiovkh, director of Ukrainian studies, can speak to the EuroMaidan movement in Ukraine. Originally from Lviv in western Ukraine, Tsiovkh has given talks on the country’s history and politics. He monitors Ukrainian media on a daily basis. Each summer, Tsiovkh organizes and directs the KU Intensive Ukrainian Language and Culture program in Lviv.

Vitaly Chernetsky, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, has been monitoring the official and unofficial media accounts of events in Ukraine. He recently translated an op-ed piece in the International New York Times by Yuri Andrukhovych, a leading Ukrainian writer and public intellectual. Chernetsky, who is originally from the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa, is an expert in 20th- and 21st-century Russian and Ukrainian literature and film, and he is the current president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies.

Lidiya Zubytska, a doctoral student in political science and native of Ukraine, specializes in international relations with regional expertise in Ukraine, Russia and the European Union. She is currently researching the influence of mass protests on Ukrainian foreign policy.

To schedule an interview, contact Christine Metz Howard at 785-864-8852 or cmetzhoward@ku.edu.



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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


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