Gift will extend 9 scholars’ stay in the US through May 2024

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University program launched in March to provide Ukrainian scholars an opportunity to continue their academic pursuits here during the ongoing Russian invasion of their home country has received a grant from The Heritage Group to extend the initiative into May 2024.

The Indianapolis-based Heritage Group is donating $270,000 to support all nine participants in Purdue’s Ukrainian Scholars Initiative for another academic year. This extends funding through the Spring 2024 semester, officials with Purdue and Heritage Group announced Wednesday (Feb. 22). In addition to renewing the program, Purdue officials plan to expand it for a new class of Ukrainian scholars whose academic endeavors remain stalled by Russia’s invasion.

“When President (Mitch) Daniels launched the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative in March 2022, Purdue continued our distinct tradition of welcoming those scholars and students seeking refuge from tyranny and a home for liberty,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang. “We hope the Ukrainian scholars in our community can return to safety and freedom in Ukraine one day soon. In the meantime, through Heritage Group’s resounding support and our firm commitment, we will renew and expand this initiative on a campus for the free minds.”

Purdue established the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative in what was among the first and is now the largest and most ambitious university-led program in the country. The goal: to assist these faculty members and scholars whose academic pursuits have been derailed by the conflict, which marks its one-year anniversary on Friday (Feb. 24).

Of more than 100 applications, Purdue was able to accept approximately 20 individuals. Nine scholars eventually enrolled in the program to resume their research and studies, said Mike Brzezinski, Purdue vice president for global partnerships and programs. Since its March 2022 launch, Brzezinski has led Purdue’s Ukrainian Scholars Initiative along with associate provost Peter Hollenbeck; Amanda Thompson, director of International Scholar Services in Purdue’s International Students and Scholars program; and ISS counselors Chad Broeker and Austin Smith.

The first Ukrainian scholar arrived in May and the ninth was on campus by November, all with the expectation they would be here for at least 12 months.

“For 90 years, the Heritage Group has been committed to building a safer, more enriching and sustainable world by harnessing the power of family,” said Sara Morris, director of strategic initiatives for Heritage Group. “When we saw the war and heartbreak in Ukraine and then learned of Purdue’s efforts to support Ukrainian scholars, we knew immediately we wanted to help. We are fortunate to be able to support this initiative to enrich the lives of the individual Ukrainian scholars, their families, all who come into contact with them at Purdue, and our own team members.”

The Heritage Group expressed an interest in the Purdue program during its very early stages last spring and has been engaged ever since, Brzezinski said. Greg Kapp, vice president for development at Purdue for Life, and Diane Klassen, chief development officer of university initiatives for Purdue Research Foundation, were instrumental in collaborating with Brzezinski to secure the donation from The Heritage Group.

“After the arrival of all of our nine scholars, The Heritage Group was eager to learn more about each individual and to know how they could help,” Brzezinski said. “We’re so very pleased and grateful that they are contributing the majority of funding needed to sponsor each scholar for one year. Individuals from Heritage also are eager to meet our Ukrainian faculty and students, a sign that they are truly interested in their well-being.”

Additionally, the various unit hosts of the scholars within Purdue and the Greater Lafayette community have decided to continue their financial and humanitarian support of the program through May 2024, Brzezinski said. Indeed, as the world marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the strong Purdue-Greater Lafayette community connection has been essential to the success of the program, Brzezinski said.

William and Liesl Shen, Purdue alumni who own Crestview Apartments in West Lafayette, originally set aside 19 units since the spring to be used by the scholars; six scholars live there now. And over 20 families from Faith Church in Lafayette have given their time and resources to furnish the scholars’ apartments.

Through the Purdue program, the Ukrainian visiting scholars are engaging in their own research or supporting research conducted by Purdue faculty members. Additionally, several are enrolled in doctoral programs and at the dissertation research stage of their degree programs. Their impressive scholarship stretches across a diversity of disciplines — from chemistry, library sciences, psychology, linguistics, communication, sociology and neuroscience to political science, management, history, and earth and planetary sciences.

About Purdue University

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Writer: Phillip Fiorini,

Sources: Mike Brzezinski,

Sara Morris,

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