SF Board Takes on Russian Program
SF Board Takes On Russian Program
October 7, 2004 6:23 PM
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution last week urging President Robert Corrigan to continue SF State’s Russian program.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who co-sponsored the resolution with Supervisor Bevan Dufty, initially introduced the resolution during the Sept. 28 board meeting. The adoption was then passed by a unanimous vote on behalf of the Board on Oct. 5.
“I can’t remember the Board ever taking such a strong stand for an academic teaching institute, as in the case of the Russian program,” McGoldrick said. “SF State has an obligation to provide for both the Russian as well as non-Russian communities of San Francisco and to provide tools that will enable its students to be culturally literate.”
McGoldrick said that he “remembers back in April when (the Russian program) was initially slated for discontinuance. Siskron (Russian Program Director) sat across from me in my office, begging me to do something about the possible elimination of the program.”
The resolution drafted by McGoldrick and Dufty recognized San Francisco’s 80,000-strong Russian-speaking population as the chief reason why SF State should hang on to the program. It also mentions the Russian program being “recognized as a leader in the California State University System.”
McGoldrick also said the fast-growing Russian population in San Francisco and demands on educational, medical and social services for the Russian community are phenomenal.
“Our Russian community contributes everything from arts and music to different foods. There is a critical mass of Russian culture here,” McGoldrick said.
“I am hopeful that the state economy will rise from the deficit that it is in,” Dufty said.
Midori McKeon, chair of SF State’s foreign language department said that “academically, the discontinuance (of the Russian degree program) would directly contradict the stated mission of SF State to promote respect for and appreciation of the human diversity and the cultural mosaic of the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area.”
McKeon said that with the help of both the foreign language department and the Russian department, the university was able to work with local community leaders such as government officials of San Francisco, legislatures in
Katerina Siskron, Russian program director, said, “The Russian language is the gateweay to all other Slavic languages. If you are fluent in Russian, it can take as little as one year to learn any other Slavic language.”
Leon Igudesman is just one of many San Francisco residents who are in support of the Board of Supervisor’s resolution.
Igudesman migrated from Russia to San Francisco 25 years ago. He and his wife Elizabeth have contributed greatly to both the Russian and non-Russian communities of San Francisco. Igudesman plays violin for the San Francisco Opera while his wife works for a real estate agency in San Francisco.
“(It’s) only logical for (SF State) to keep the Russian degree program,” Igudesman said. “It is important to emphasize that we have a very active Russian community here in San Francisco. Russians who move here from Russia tend to contribute to the community right away.”
The Richmond district and the area on Geary, between 18th and 25th Avenues hosts a large Russian population both by way of residents and businesses.
“Most Russians who move here come to work, either to start their own business or work in technical or financial fields,” Igudesman said. “And many of us choose to move to San Francisco specifically because of the natural beauty of the city as well as its reputation for an all inclusive attitude. The nice climate also helps.”
The resolution to continue the Russian program will be forwarded to Corrigan, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Governor Schwarzenegger, state senators and trustees of the State University Center.
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