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Polish Studies program recognized after 40 years

By Carly Fromm, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 30, 2014

It’s about time.

Forty years after its inception, the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies received University recognition earlier this month.

Though the program has funded fellowships, guest lectures, summer grants and courses pertaining to Polish studies for years, it was previously considered a fund rather than an official University program.

Marysia Ostafin, executive director of the program, said formal recognition serves as a testament to everything the program has accomplished over the past four decades.

“Until this formal recognition by the College of LSA, we were just an informal endowment that funded projects,” Ostafin said. “It is a recognition of the work that we’ve done over these years and also a recognition of our fundraising. We’ve really established ourselves.”

The program, which receives a large portion of its funds from the Nicolaus Copernicus Endowment, “is now widely regarded as the premier Polish Studies program in North America,” according to a University press release.

“Everybody is delighted,” Ostafin said. “We’ve achieved something new and great.”

She added that this recognition will also aid in the program’s fundraising efforts.

“I think it’ll help us in fundraising along the way, too, because people will recognize that this is a real, established and recognized program in Polish studies,” Ostafin said.

Alena Aniskiewicz, a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, said the program sets the University apart from its competitors.

“Thanks to the Copernicus Endowment, Michigan is one of the best places anywhere to study Polish topics,” Aniskiewicz said. “Its formal recognition as a program underscores both its value to the University and a commitment to the continued promotion of Polish studies in Ann Arbor.”

The Copernicus Program has also been a draw for prospective students.

Jodi Greig, a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, decided to come to the University in large part due to the program’s offerings.

“One of the reasons I chose my Ph.D. program at Michigan is precisely the widespread support for Polish studies,” Greig said. “The Endowment basically allowed me to complete research every summer for the first three years of graduate school. It would have been impossible to do summer Polish language courses and research without it.”

Additionally, with the Copernicus Endowment Fellowship, students have had the opportunity to study abroad.

Paulina Duda, another graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, said the Copernicus Endowment provided her with the opportunity to study in Ukraine.

Duda left her home in Poland to study at the University. During summer term, she said she had planned to work in a coffee shop before she discovered the abroad opportunity.

“It’s has been enriching the student life immeasurably with opportunities to travel to that part of the world, to study the language.”


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