Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting

No. 535

    Anniversary of Robert Evarestov, Professor Emeritus of St Petersburg University

    On 23 July, Robert Evarestov, Professor Emeritus of St Petersburg University, Head of the Department of Quantum Chemistry at the Institute of Chemistry and an Honoured Scientist of the Russian Federation, celebrated his 85th birthday. Professor Evarestov has come a long way in his university career: from Assistant Lecturer to Professor, Head of the Department, Head of the Research Institute of Chemistry (1990-1994) and then Senior Vice-Rector (1994-1999). Throughout his life, he has successfully combined his scientific and social activities ((St Petersburg University Professor Robert Evarestov celebrates his 85th birthday).

    The meeting participants congratulated Robert Evarestov on his anniversary and wished him every success in his work.

    St Petersburg University flag to be put up at the North Pole

    At St Petersburg University, the University flag was handed over to Denis Zhgunov, a university entrant and the winner of the All-Russian Bolshaya Peremena contest. Together with other prize winners, he will travel to the North Pole, where flags of the Russian regions as well as of higher and secondary education institutions will be put up.

    As part of the Icebreaker Discoveries Programme, organised by Rosatom State Corporation, the students will go on an expedition aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory). Among the expedition participants there will be 70 winners of the contest from 31 regions of the Russian Federation.

    Aleksandr Babich, Senior Vice-Rector for Youth Policy and Admissions at St Petersburg University, congratulated the contestant on his victory and noted that choosing a future place of study is a serious decision in everyone’s life.

    Denis Zhgunov told Aleksandr Babich, Vice-Rector of St Petersburg University, about his "Cultural Road" project, which he plans to implement in Pskov and the Pskov Region. He suggested installing information screens on buses that would immerse passengers in a journey through the city’s landmarks and history (St Petersburg University flag to be put up at the North Pole).

    Current issues with organising the teaching and learning process

    Over the past week, the Virtual Reception received 15 enquiries addressed to the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities. Additionally, 17 enquiries were registered in the student enquiry register. Among the enquiries submitted were those concerning the procedures of transfer and reinstatement to St Petersburg University as well as other issues, including: The conditions for taking an academic leave; Studying at St Petersburg University; Conducting assessment for student transfer to St Petersburg University; Possibility of transfer to another academic programme at St Petersburg University; and The timetable for the re-training programme.

    According to Acting Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities Svetlana Begeza, since 24 February, 205 requests have been received to be transferred to St Petersburg University from universities of the following countries: The Czech Republic; Germany; Poland; Israel; the Donetsk People’s Republic; Romania; Canada; the USA; Switzerland; France; Ukraine; Spain; Austria; Italy; Latvia; the Lugansk People’s Republic; Finland; South Korea; Lithuania; Hungary; Belgium; Greece; Great Britain; Slovakia; Singapore; and Japan. Additionally, 12 requests were registered last week. According to Regulation № 434 dated 21 March 2022 of the Government of the Russian Federation and Letter MN-5/927-DA dated 1 March 2022 of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, St Petersburg University accepts transfer requests from the citizens of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic and Russian citizens who had to leave the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and Ukraine and arrive in Russia, as well as the Russian citizens expressing the desire to transfer from international educational organisations in the states included into the list of non-friendly states established by Regulation No 430-r of the Government of the Russian Federation. As of today, orders have been issued to enrol 42 students as an academic transfer from a foreign educational organisation. Twenty six students were enrolled on a government-funded basis, while 16 students were enrolled on a fee-paying basis. Planned work is underway with other applicants.

    Meetings of the heads of academic subdivisions of St Petersburg University with the student activists have been postponed until the end of August.

    St Petersburg University botanists helped identify the fuel of the brazier in the painting by Pieter Claesz for the Hermitage Garden

    Dmitry Himelbrant, Assistant Professor in the Department of Botany at St Petersburg University, and Irina Stepanchikova, Research Associate in the Department of Botany at St Petersburg University, helped identify specific objects depicted in Pieter Claesz’s "Still Life with Clay Pipes". The project was carried out in the spring of 2022 as part of the joint research initiative "Hermitage Garden" developed by the State Hermitage Museum and St Petersburg University.

    The Hermitage Garden is the joint research initiative of the State Hermitage Museum and St Petersburg University. The initiative is part of the "Molodost" ("Youth") project (Minutes of the Rector’s meeting dated 27 June 2022). While working on the project, the curators of the museum will select paintings from the Hermitage collection depicting various plants. They will be analysed by St Petersburg University botanists. The result will be the Hermitage Garden book. The book will feature flowers, trees, mosses and other plants found in still lives, landscapes, wreaths, and ornaments.

    The painting by Pieter Claesz depicts an object resembling lichen Cladonia stellaris on the brazier. The researchers conducted a comparative analysis of different versions of the painting. Like many of the artist’s still lives, this painting has several versions in different museums around the world. The researchers came to a conclusion that the brazier was filled not with lichen, but with cotton wool (Lichen or cotton wool: botanists at St Petersburg University identify painting by Pieter Claesz for the Hermitage Garden).

    Signing agreements on education by educational institutions with foreign organisations and citizens

    According to Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No 645 ‘On Approval of the Rules for the Preparation and Obtaining of Opinions Provided for by Part 4 of Article 105 of the Federal Law "On Education in the Russian Federation"’, in order to sign educational agreements with foreign organisations and citizens on educational issues, 783 existing international agreements signed by St Petersburg University were uploaded to the "Monitoring" information and analytical system. As Deputy Rector for International Affairs Sergey Andryushin said, conclusions on these agreements are expected. On a regular basis, the sets of documents are being sent for approval of new draft agreements with foreign partners by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

    Agreement between St Petersburg University and the National Digital Resource "Ruсont"

    For conducting scientific assessment of highly qualified scientific personnel, St Petersburg University plans to use a system for computer detection of text borrowings based on artificial intelligence, i.e. the Rucontext system. An agreement on granting the right to use the programme, i.e. the Rucontext system, was signed by St Petersburg University and the National Digital Resource "Rucont", Skolkovo.

    As Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs Yury Penov said, the use of the Rucontext system is expected to detect explicit and hidden borrowings in scientific texts of various nature, including dissertations submitted for defence at St Petersburg University to gain an academic degree. A distinctive feature of the system is the obtaining and use of the results of deep linguistic processing of texts in both the Russian and English languages.

    The results of verification by this system of dissertations submitted to St Petersburg University to obtain an academic degree are supposed to be sent to the dissertation council for consideration when making decisions on their compliance with the criteria for evaluating dissertations for a degree established at St Petersburg University.

    Illegal use of the name of St Petersburg University and its subdivisions

    As part of the ongoing work to identify and suppress the illegal use of the visual identity means of St Petersburg University, facts of the sale of counterfeit products with St Petersburg University’s means of visual identity have been revealed. There are also VKontakte groups that use the symbols of St Petersburg University in their name or description.

    The use of visual identity means associated with St Petersburg University in relation to persons other than St Petersburg University can mislead the consumer about the person providing services using these means of visual identity. Thus, the claims were sent to the specified addresses with a warning about the impossibility of using symbols and means of visual identity of St Petersburg University without obtaining a prior written consent. Additionally, these claims were in relation to the termination of the sale of products with the symbols and means of visual identity of St Petersburg University and the removal of advertising products with the symbols of St Petersburg University in the social network VKontakte.

    According to Yury Penov, Deputy Rector for Legal Affairs, as a result of sending the claims, offers for the sale of souvenirs were deleted on many sites, and souvenirs with the symbols of St Petersburg University are not sold.

    Today, there are several links to the product advertisements using the symbols of St Petersburg University. Two links lead to the same online store Print Bar that is owned by PRINT BAR LLC. It provides services for drawing any logo to the goods presented in the store. An additional claim was sent to the address of PRINT BAR LLC.

    Previously, the work was done to prevent the illegal use of St Petersburg University’s symbols by administrators of some Internet publics. They used St Petersburg University’s symbols in their names or descriptions and disseminate information on behalf of St Petersburg University without reference to the original source. Claims have also been sent.

    Working with the St Petersburg University’s book collections

    Since 2015, the work has been underway to return to readers the publications of the book collection of St Petersburg University. Although more than a million publications have been returned to be used by readers, it is impossible to say how many publications from the library of St Petersburg University were lost, destroyed and stolen due to criminal mismanagement that flourished at the University for many years.

    Among the book collections identified and returned to readers is the collection which was based on the library of the Imperial St Petersburg Society of Naturalists that was established at the University in 1868. In the early 1990s, the collection of books that belonged to St Petersburg University but was unavailable for use and unknown to the University students and staff was illegally transferred by the University to the regional public organisation "St Petersburg Society of Naturalists" that was registered in 1992 (A Fresh Start: How we put an end to the chaos).

    As a result of the work in the first half of 2022, St Petersburg University librarians found and made available to readers 4,749 items of the University’s library collection. It was the book collection of the Imperial St Petersburg Society of Naturalists. After illegal transfer to private hands in the early 1990s, it was returned to the University only in 2015.

    For the entire period of work, 49,287 publications from this most valuable collection of natural sciences have been put into scientific circulation, recorded and described in the electronic catalogue. The publications were returned to the library collection and registered in the library and accounting records (Books that are no longer in the library of the Imperial St Petersburg Society of Naturalists). Most of them are foreign periodicals and reprints of articles from ongoing publications in various European languages.

    Among them are publications in the English language: "Proceedings of the United States National Museum" (from 1892 to 1968); "Transactions of the Shikoku Entomological society" (from 1957 to 1994). There are publications in the German language: "Zeitschrift für die Gesammten Naturwissenschaften", Stieve H. "Die Entwicklung des Eierstockeies der Dohle (Colaeus monedula). Ein Betrag zur Frage nach den physiologischerweise im Ovar stattfindenden Ruckbildungsvorgangen". There are publications in the French language: "Travaux du Laboratoire d’hydrobiologie et de pisculture de l’Université de Grenoble". There are publications in the Swedish language: "Zoologiska bidrag från Uppsala". There are publications in the Danish language: "Videnskabelige meddelelser fra Dansk naturhistorisk forening i København". There are publications in the Portuguese language: "Revista da Sociedade scientifica de Sao Paulo". There are publications in the Czech language: "Rozpravy Česke academy sisare Frantiska Josefa pro vědy, slovesnost a umění". There are publications in the Slovak language: "Zborník Vychodoslovenského múzea v Košiciach". There are publications in the Polish language: Motyka J. "Materja and y do flory porost y w wlaska".

    It is necessary to mention two publications that became available to the University students and staff as a result of this work. Of greatest interest is the monograph that is dated 1797. It is "Description of the White Sea with its shores and islands in general; also a private description of the Island Stone ridge, to which Solovki belonged, and the topography of the Solovetsky Monastery with its islands; with the introduction of a sea voyage in 1789 to this monastery" by Alexander Fomin. Its author is Alexander Fomin (1735-1802/1804), who was an eminent citizen of Arkhangelsk; a merchant; since 1785 the director of public schools; a collector of ancient documents and manuscripts; and a Corresponding Member of the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences. The book was published in St Petersburg. It is dedicated to the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences. The book is an extended description of the author’s impressions of the trip to the Solovetsky Islands in 1789.

    Among the reference publications is "The list of works of Vladimir Shimkevich: from 1881 to 1911". Vladimir Shimkevich (1858–1923) was a prominent zoologist; a Member of the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences; one of the curators of the Zootomy Cabinet at St Petersburg University; and Dean of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics. In 1919-1922, he was the Rector of the University. The publication was prepared by his wife and co-author Liudmila Shimkevich. It was published "on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the educational service and 30 years of scientific activity in 1911" of the zoologist.

    The work to return books to the library of the University is still underway.