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Exporting Best Practices

Top Russian universities are looking to become competitive with the best educational institutions around the world. To help them make this leap, their administrators recently visited California State University, Fullerton.

Exporting Best Practices

Marina Stupnikova, Deputy Head of the Endowment Fund at National Research University

From October 17–18, a delegation of 15 administrators from four Russian universities visited Cal State Fullerton to enhance their knowledge of American higher-education practices. This two-day program—hosted by University Extended Education—focused on California’s higher-education system, the strategic role and functions of advancement, and how information technology and faculty development resources support the institution.

The four participating universities—National Research University Higher School of Economics; Far Eastern Federal University; Ural Federal University; and Mariiski State University, Ioshkar-Ola—are positioning themselves to be globally competitive.

Greg Saks
Greg Saks, Cal State Fullerton's Vice President for University Advancement Russians with statue
(L-R) Alina Volokhova, Vladimir Karacharovskii, and Ksenia Kidimova pose with the statue of Steven G. Mihaylo, namesake of the University’s business school

To get there, one thing they must do is diversify funding. These institutions currently receive an unsustainably high percentage of support from the government. In the coming years they will need to replace a certain amount of this funding with private donations.

“This is such a challenge for us, because in our country, there is not a well-established history of philanthropy. We are basically starting from scratch,” said Marina Stupnikova, Deputy Head of the Endowment Fund at National Research University, which was established in 1992 and has already grown to one of Russia’s leading and largest universities.

During their first day in Fullerton, the group attended workshops that provided a comprehensive view of how advancement works at a major institution, including the roles communications, alumni, and government relations play. Greg Saks, Cal State Fullerton’s Vice President for University Advancement, spoke about the long-term engagement and commitment required to create and maintain a successful fundraising operation.

His talk changed the perspective of Ksenia Moratova, National Research University’s Vice Provost. “We are fast people, we want to move quickly, but now we understand that fundraising requires patience. It is not just asking for money. It’s about building lifelong relationships. Because when someone hands you a check, they become a stakeholder. They want to know how you perform.”

“We are fast people, we want to move quickly, but now we understand that fundraising requires patience . . . It’s about building lifelong relationships.”

On their second day, participants attended a panel discussion detailing the University’s Faculty Development Center, Internet Portal, and online teaching tools relating to the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of courses.

Their final workshop was with Steve Murray, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Emeritus, who talked about The California Master Plan, which provides a path for every student in the state who wants to pursue higher education.

“This was important, because I didn’t understand the educational system of California before I came here,” noted Moratova. “When I learn the details I can see there are points we have in common, and that gives me useful ideas about how I can make changes when I return home.”

“I feel inspired,” said Stupnikova, after receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from Murray. “I can’t wait to get back and start working.”


The Russian Administrators’ visit was organized by International Academic Initiatives and led by that organization’s CEO and co-founder, Tatyana Tysrlina-Spady.