Tuesday, January 20, 2009

University of Albany Solidifies Partnership with Tula State

Courtesy: University of Albany

University at Albany Interim President George M. Philip recently signed an agreement with Rector Nadezhda A. Shaidenko, of Tula State Pedagogical University of Russia, to deepen and expand collaborative efforts between the two universities. The formal agreement is the first of its kind between the two institutions, and is a culmination of previous collaborations initiated through the longstanding Albany-Tula Alliance.

"We are deeply honored to continue our partnership with Tula State University," said Philip. "This collaboration has helped both institutions develop and expand programs in such fields as social welfare, public health, and public policy." Philip noted the two universities have much in common, with both playing key roles in the capitals of their states and regions.

The ongoing relationship between UAlbany and Tula State has resulted in faculty exchanges and international conferences in social welfare, helping the two universities build programs in gerontology, disaster response and social work. The new agreement expands the social work initiatives to include new student service learning projects, study tours, and international field placements. In addition, UAlbany's schools of Education, Business, and Public Health will explore collaborative opportunities with counterparts at Tula State.

Ronald Toseland, professor and director of the Institute of Gerontology, was in Russia last year, giving a keynote talk at a conference on disasters. Toseland is a Senior Fulbright Specialist. While in Russia, he also presented on social work education in the U.S. and lectured at Tula State. In 2003, he brought a delegation to Russia for a two-day conference on aging, the result of which was the first book on social work and gerontology in Russian. Since then, Toseland has co-edited or contributed to three more Russian books on social work and aging.

Anne E. Fortune, professor and director of the School of Social Welfare's Internships in Aging Project, also attended the 2003 conference, where she presented on innovative approaches to field education for social workers in aging. She contributed chapters on U.S. social work education and work with older persons for the four Russian texts. "The opportunity to contribute to development of social services and care for the elderly in Russia is gratifying, and faculty exchanges with Tula State have enriched our education at UAlbany," said Fortune.

UAlbany faculty serving on the Albany-Tula Alliance have played an active role in public health, public policy, the development of non-governmental organizations, and entrepreneurial, private sector innovations.

The Tula Alliance began in 1991 when Mayor Thomas M. Whalen III and Charlotte Buchanan established a steering committee and the City of Tula, Russia, was chosen as a sister city. Early in 1992, during the first harsh winter after the collapse of the Soviet Union and directed by Ray Joyce, 16,000 lbs. of clothing, food, and medications were airlifted from the Capital Region to Tula. Later that year, the first exchange of educators began. There has been a long history of exchanges in education, health, business, law, government, and the arts. UAlbany faculty have regularly participated in the exchange, including music Professor Emeritus Findlay Cockrell, who gave several piano concerts in the city from 1995 through 2004.

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