Irena Kurliak, Head of the Department of General and Social Pedagogy at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) (left), and Nataliya Pylatyuk, Project and Program Manager in UCU’s Development Department, recently concluded a week-long visit to St. Mary’s University College, where they explored exchange opportunties between the two institutions.
(October 2, 2012) -- St. Mary’s University College and the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) are small universities located on picturesque hilltop campuses.
UCU was established in Lviv, Ukraine in the mid-1990s, about the same time that St. Mary’s began accepting full-time students at its former home in St. Anthony's School in Calgary.
The two institutions face similar challenges and opportunities, but there is one significant difference. While St. Mary’s University College is one of many Catholic post-secondary institutions in Canada, UCU is the only Catholic university in Ukraine. As such, it holds the hopes and dreams of many supporters, not least of all a dedicated group of Calgarians called the Calgary Friends of UCU.
As part of the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (UCEF), which formed in Canada and the United States to support the vision of a Catholic university in Ukraine, the Calgary-based group is supporting an exchange agreement between UCU and St. Mary’s University College. To date, the group has raised more than $80,000. The group’s annual fund-raising dinner, held at the St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church Cultural Center on September 25, celebrated the growing relationship between UCU and St. Mary’s.
Speaking by video, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Rector of UCU, encouraged those attending the dinner to continue to support the exchange between the two universities.
“We are thrilled that we are establishing a strong relationship with Calgary and that the academic exchange is moving forward,” Bishop Gudziak said. “We ask everyone to support the connection that is being made which will very fruitful. We await the young people from St. Mary’s University College and look forward to meeting you."
“This initiative is significant, not just because it brings together two important universities with a common purpose, but also because it is focused on student and faculty exchanges,” said Dr. Gerry Turcotte, President of St. Mary’s University College. “The agreement will allow us to develop pedagogical, research and cultural partnerships that will be models for future collaborations.”
Two special guests – Irena Kurliak, Head of the Department of General and Social Pedagogy at UCU, and Nataliya Pylatyuk, Project and Program Manager in UCU’s Development Department – attended the dinner as they concluded a week-long visit to St. Mary’s. Their visit followed a trip to the UCU by Linda Dudar, St. Mary’s Education Director, and Carole Baldwin, a former education professor, in April 2011. On that trip, Dudar and Baldwin delivered guest lectures, presentations and workshops to educators in Ukraine.
This year, Dudar and her staff returned the hospitality, helping Kurliak and Pylatyuk become more familiar with our institution and lay the groundwork for future student exchanges between the two universities.
“In these early years of the exchange agreement, there are many details to negotiate,” she said. “But we already have a relationship based on mutual respect and a commitment to excellence.”