The Miami Report

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Havighurst Center imagines possibilities

The towers on Harrison Hall may be converted—at least temporarily—to Russian-style onion domes to celebrate inaugural activities this spring surrounding the creation of the Havig-hurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies.

That’s just one example of the high-visibility events currently under discussion at the center, which is located in Harrison.

Will it really happen? It just might—and if it doesn’t there are sure to be some other equally creative ways of calling attention to the center.

Funded by a multimillion dollar gift from the late Walter Havighurst, long-time professor of English at Miami, the center is directed by Karen Dawisha, who is the Walter Havighurst Professor in Russian and Post-Soviet Politics and a top expert on the post-Communist world.

Although the center didn’t actually receive formal approval from the Council of Academic Deans and Provost Ronald J. Crutcher until Nov. 1, efforts have been under way for months to make the new academic unit a dynamic addition to campus and community life.

A Russian film series and weekly colloquium are already under way (see accompanying box). A festival is being planned for the end of March around the theme of "Imagining Russia." Among the events planned: a colloquium featuring leading academics from the United States and abroad; two undergraduate sprint courses; an inaugural lecture by Dawisha; performing and fine arts events, including art, music, dance, theater and film; and a Russian feast.

Efforts are being made by Dawisha and Maureen Nimis, program coordinator, to involve the entire Oxford and Miami community.

Havighurst’s bequest specified that his gift be used to improve U.S.-Russian relations, to deepen understanding of Russia and the successor states and to promote scholarship of the area.

Dawisha wants to create connections that are not only multidis-ciplinary, but multilevel. This means engaging as many people as possible in the center—from local school children to leading intellectuals.

To accomplish this goal, two advisory groups have been created. The Havig-hurst committee includes William Bausano (music), Robert Di Donato (GREAL), Burton Kaufman (Western College program), Robert Thurston (history), James Wile (teacher education) and Peter Williams (comparative religion).

A fine arts task force will assist with festival preparations. Members include Sara Butler (School of Fine Arts), Bausano (music), Patti Swofford (Performing Arts Series), Bonnie Mason (art museum) and Howard Blanning (theatre).

For more information, contact Nimis at 9-3303 or

Date Published: 11/09/2000
Volume: 20   Number: 15


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