University Administrator from Russia Visits Saint Leo

March 09, 2016

The campus of Saint Leo University became a new kind of international destination last week with an in-depth visit from a higher education professional from St. Petersburg, Russia. The visit was a segment of a fairly new program that specifically helps Russian universities launch or broaden their international exchange programs. That can mean helping more Russian students or faculty visit other countries, attracting more students or faculty from various nations to study in Russia for a time, or both.Fulbright -1

Dr. David Felsen, executive director of Saint Leo’s Office of International Affairs, coordinated the Saint Leo February 29 to March 4 site visit for Ms. Maria Kuznetsova, a specialist with five years of work experience helping to run the International Office of St. Petersburg University of Management and Economics. She and several colleagues were selected for individual travel grants awarded by the Russian International Education Association. The well-known Fulbright Program, which fosters international educational and cultural exchanges, helps coordinate the professional development program. Though the Fulbright Program is based in Washington, DC, it has an operation in Russia, too.

Ms. Kuznetsova, who is fluent in English and Spanish, and seven other fellows traveled to New York City for seminars and then to Indiana University at Bloomington in early 2016 to learn as a group. In Indiana, they were briefed on various facets of the international programs office, including the student orientation procedures. The fellows eventually branched out separately to a variety of institutions for pre-arranged visits. Ms. Kuznetsova also visited Ball State University in Indiana and DePaul University in Chicago before traveling south to Florida.

While at Saint Leo, she spent time in discussions with Dr. Felsen, and with other key staffers in Multicultural and International Student Services, Business Affairs, Compliance, and Learning Design.

Since Ms. Kuznetsova had visited the United States about 10 years ago through a four-month program, she was already familiar with many aspects of American culture. However, this was her first trip to America since she began working in higher education.

In a bit of good luck for a handful of Saint Leo students, Ms. Kuznetsova also visited aFulbright -2 small, introductory-level Russian language class offered by Dr. Iona Sarieva. Ms. Kuznetsova spoke with the students about attending college in Russia, about her institution, and her home city of St. Petersburg—considered Russia’s cultural capital. She gave them an opportunity to practice a little conversational Russian, as well.  

Dr. Felsen and Ms. Kuznetsova also met with other interested executives in Pasco County. They included Bill Cronin, president and chief executive of Pasco County Economic Development Council; Kathryn Starkey, Pasco County commissioner; and from 

Pasco-Hernando State College, Dr. Stanley Giannet, vice president for academic affairs and PHSC system-wide provost, and several of his colleagues and administrators.

She and the other fellows will round out their experiences at a conference at the end of the program.