19 November saw the opening of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in the United States. In Bard College, Blithewood, agreements were signed to create a Representative Office and a Russian Language Testing Centre of St Petersburg University in the United States. The documents were signed by Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs of St Petersburg University, and Leon Botstein, President of Bard College. The second part of the ceremony was held in New York on 20 November.

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The work of the Representative Office will focus on: developing closer interaction in the field of education between the United States and Russia; supporting joint research projects; organising conferences and expert round table discussions; organising summer schools and public lectures by distinguished scientists and cultural figures. Additionally, the mission of the Representative Office is to: promote in the United States the Russian language, and the history and culture of Russia; promote in Russia the English language, and American history and culture.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs of St Petersburg University, emphasised, ‘As part of the implementation of our international policy, we strive for maximum internationalisation and for the presence of the University all over the world. The opening of the Representative Office in the United States will make it possible for us to significantly increase the number of exchange students not only with Bard College, but also with other American universities. In addition to major events, conferences, seminars, round table discussions, workshops and student exhibitions, the Representative Office will be involved in the organisation of student exchanges.’

Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, expressed confidence that the opening of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in the United States will encourage the evolution of the relationships between Russia and the United States. ‘The creation of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University is especially well-timed now, in the light of the difficulties that are found in relations between Russia and the United States in policy and diplomacy. We have been cooperating for 22 years,’ said Mr Botstein.

The opening of the Representative Office was a further step, and I express my gratitude to St Petersburg University that it has made this happen. It is our privilege to be partners.

Leon Botstein, President of Bard College

Anatoly Antonov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States, sent welcome remarks on the occasion of the opening of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in Bard College. In it, he noted that scientific cooperation and academic exchanges between Russia and the United States began in the second half of the 1950s and since then they have been growing rapidly.

‘Up to now, Russian and American experts continue their cooperation in joint research projects in diverse academic fields. This has led to dozens of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. They have been of benefit not only to our countries, but to the whole world. Despite the difficulties in the political dialogue between Russia and the United States, scientists from the two countries continue to search for answers to the most challenging and sensitive issues facing all of mankind: from the treatment of AIDS and cancer to space exploration,’ wrote the ambassador in his welcome letter.

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Anatoly Antonov also noted that the opening of the Representative Office of St Petersburg University in the United States will significantly contribute to the extension of contacts among lecturers and students of the two countries. It will also promote the mutually beneficial academic enrichment of Russia and the United States.

Before the ceremony, Andrei Astvatsaturov, a well-known writer, professor of St Petersburg University and the director of the Nabokov Museum of St Petersburg University, delivered a lecture ‘Contemporary Russian Prose’. He spoke about the changes that have occurred in the national literature since the 1980s. 

On 20 November, after the ceremony in New York, students of St Petersburg University and Bard College took part in the video conference ‘Russia and America through the eyes of students: stereotypes and reality’. The teleconference was devoted to: pressing issues affecting the life of students of the two countries; and cooperation among students of St Petersburg University and Bard College as well as the United States and Russia as a whole.