A visit to the Tivoli Theatre or Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga couldn’t top a visit to UTC for a group of Russian professors and university administrators. The group visited UTC to learn about the American higher education system, but left pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and generosity of the faculty and staff.
The five delegates were from Nizhnii Tagil, Russia, an industrial city of 438,000 located on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains. They work and teach at area universities and colleges, including Ural Federal University and Nizhniy Tagil State Social Pedagogical Academy. Their visit was organized by the Sister City Association of Chattanooga.
The Sister City Association of Chattanooga is a group of volunteers interested in establishing meaningful and lasting global friendships through cultural, educational, institutional and commercial exchanges. Since 1975, Chattanooga has developed Sister City partnerships with five cities: Hamm, Germany, Wuxi, China, Givatayim, Israel, Nizhnii Tagil, Russia, and Gangneung, Republic of Korea.
Their visit to UTC yielded fruitful meetings with administrators, who provided the delegates with an umbrella view of the university, its history, and a tour of UTC before the delegates met with department heads in their specific disciplines.
According to Georgia Eastman, former president of the Sister City Association of Chattanooga and co-organizer of the visit, UTC Chancellor Dr. Roger Brown made a great first impression. “The delegates thought it was wonderful that the chancellor would joke and take pictures with them,” she said.
“With Dr. Brown, there’s a willingness to have a dialogue. The tone he set was also reflected in the faculty they met throughout their visit at UTC,” Bill Prince, former UTC librarian and co-organizer of the visit, said. “They found everybody so friendly and helpful,” Eastman added
The group spent several days of their visit meeting with UTC faculty. Several partnerships were formed between UTC faculty and members of the delegation to collaborate on research, events and projects. Dr. Larisa Yuryeva, Associate Professor of Industrial Management and Economics at Ural Federal University, is planning to continue working with Dr. John Tucker, the Head of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences Department, on several joint publications.
Dr. Elena Chebakova, Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Fine Arts of Nizhniy Tagil State Academy of Education and Social Sciences, and Matt Greenwell, Head of the UTC Department of Art, have plans to host a joint art exhibition and international student exchange. “All of them would like to have some follow-up contact with this university,” Eastman said.
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