SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — In recognition of their “contributions to Russian democratic institutions and efforts on behalf of Russian higher education,” George Hudson, professor and chair of political science and director of Russian Area Studies, and Olga Medvedkov, professor and chair of geography, were both awarded honorary doctorates of humane letters, June 10, by the University of Russia’s Academy of Education (URAE) in Moscow.
The ceremony marked the first time that the Russian University has presented honorary degrees to anyone — Russian or non-Russian. The occasion also marked the first time that two professors have been honored by the same institution at the same time either in the United States or abroad by the first private, liberal arts university in the former Soviet Union.
URAE President Boris Mikhailovich Bim-Bad, who founded the university, presented the degrees during Hudson’s and Medvedkov’s joint one-month research trip to Moscow with 11 Wittenberg University students last month. The students were there to study the evolution of Russian civil society by interviewing members of Moscow-based grassroots organizations.
“It felt very overwhelming to become the first recipients of honorary degrees from the first Russian liberal arts university,” Medvedkov said. “The presence of our students made it particularly special.”
“It is unusual for anyone, especially foreigners, to receive an honorary doctorate from a Russian university, so I am really excited that Olga and I each received one,” Hudson added. “To get it from such an innovative institution makes the experience even more significant for me personally. I am delighted and humbled.”
A leading authority on Russia and its military as an instrument of foreign policy, Hudson has served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of Defense. A frequent visitor to Russia and prolific author, Hudson has also received numerous awards, including a Senior Fulbright Fellowship, which he used to teach at the URAE during the 1995-96 academic year. He also received a Council of Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship, and, in 2002, Wittenberg honored him with its prestigious Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Hudson earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Colorado, and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1972.
An expert in urban studies and GIS technology, Medvedkov teaches specialized courses on the geography of the former Soviet Union, urban and population geography, and business geographics among other courses at Wittenberg. An adjunct professor in the geography department at The Ohio State University who has published extensively, Medvedkov has also presented numerous research papers to international and national forums in England, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia Canada, and throughout the United States. The chair of East Lakes Division of the Association of American Geographers, Medvedkov recently spent the spring of 2003 in Moscow teaching at the URAE as a Fulbright Scholar.
A native of Moscow, Medvedkov received her M.A. from Moscow State University and her Ph.D. from the Institute of Geography, Soviet Academy of Sciences. She joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1989.
Founded in 1988, the University of Russia’s Academy of Education maintains affiliates in cities across Russia. Using the British “open-university” model, the university has grown significantly since its founding and is now a government-supported institution with close to 15,000 students.
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