Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian businessman, has pledged to support financially the Ukrainian Catholic University’s construction of a new campus near Stryiskyi Park in Lviv, according to a statement released May 17, 2011.
Details of the extent of his support were not disclosed and Mr. Firtash was not present at the event, but Father Borys Gudziak, PhD, the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), said that Mr. Firtash’s pledge was significant and that a full announcement would be coming in the fall. Father Gudziak explained that the pledges and contributions made by various major donors so far in Ukraine, Western Europe, and North America will be announced in November of this year.
The announcement came in London during a talk at the Ukrainian Institute, affiliated with the Ukrainian Catholic University, where Father Gudziak and Dr. Rory Finnin, head of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge, addressed the topic: “Ukrainian Studies Internationally: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” The talk was held as part of a series of events surrounding the yearly Adam Smith Ukraine Business Summit, one of the biggest annual international investment conferences on Ukraine.
Dr. Finnin eloquently presented the broad scope of the new Cambridge program that is fostering ties with Ukrainian studies institutions in the international context as well as with Ukraine, UCU included. Father Gudziak spoke about the seminal influence of international Ukrainian studies on academic life in independent Ukraine, particularly in fostering new approaches to research and to the university experience in general.
Particularly striking for the audience was the presentation of UCU’s future Residence College, which hopes to rethink the university dorm experience. Oxford-Cambridge Colleges and Harvard Houses are a point of departure, but UCU is experimenting further. The College will include not only rooms for 220 students, 8 faculty-tutor apartments, a small institute of advanced studies, but also a residence for mentally disabled persons who will be full-time members of the university community.
“Our friends with special needs have a special gift: they do not wear masks or facades. In every encounter they ask the basic question ‘do you know how to love’. That is the most fundamental question that a teacher can ask a student. We are inviting the disabled not as those who need a social handout but as professors of human relations. Apparently, our university will be setting a precedent with this innovative pedagogy that is meant to challenge the growing alienation in post-Soviet Ukraine and in a world increasingly shaped by virtual relationships,” said the UCU rector.
Mr Firtash, the owner of Group DF, a business conglomerate, and the co-chairman of the Investors’ Council at the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, has made significant donations to establish Cambridge Ukrainian Studies, a program launched in 2008 to promote and contribute to the study of Ukraine in the United Kingdom and beyond. His pledge to UCU shows his commitment to support quality education in Ukraine.
During a fundraising tour in the United States last year and at various events in Ukraine over the past year, Father Gudziak had spoken to audiences regarding the issue of taking money from Ukraine’s billionaires. UCU sought and received the counsel of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church leaders, the UCU Senate (Board of Directors), Lviv municipal and business leaders, as well as many international donors before setting procedures to accept large donations.
“Though at this time in the western world contributions to a university are a generally accepted practice, in Ukraine, the charitable support of universities is relatively new, which is starting to crystallize in the consciousness of society. UCU, from the moment of the revival of the university in Lviv, has worked persistently and successfully to encourage donations from benefactors to support our activities. We rely on our experience of working together with large benefactors, which has for a long time been the practice of the leading universities of North America and Europe, Cambridge in particular. We are very grateful to our donors across the world,” commented Father Gudziak.
UCU is currently raising funds to build a Western-style campus in the heart of Lviv. Over $12 million has been raised to date from a number of donors from the US, Canada, Europe and Ukraine.
Every significant donation to UCU is an unconditional gift that has no influence on faculty hiring, student admissions or curriculum decisions.
The Ukrainian Catholic University is the only independent university in Ukraine that relies exclusively on private funding from local and international sources. It receives no government funding.
The Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation is the US fundraising arm for the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.
For more information, please contact the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation at (773) 235-8462 or [email protected]