JOPLIN, Mo. —
Recent political upheaval in Ukraine has threatened a new exchange program that a Missouri Southern State University associate professor hopes to launch this fall.
Chris Moos, chairman of the management, marketing and international business department, has been working on a partnership between Missouri Southern and Odessa National Maritime University in Odessa, a major port city in southwestern Ukraine with a population of about 1 million. The partnership would bring Odessa students, who study port operations, transportation and logistics at their home university, to Missouri Southern for business classes and the opportunity to earn a special management certificate.
Moos said he had 13 Odessa students signed up to arrive in Joplin in the fall, as well as approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education to create the management certificate, when the economic and political situation in Ukraine spiraled downward. Ukraine and Russia have been sparring in recent weeks over the Crimea region, and as recently as last week, pro-Russian protesters had taken control of other areas in eastern Ukraine. On Sunday, Ukraine said it would send troops to confront the protesters.
The program, although still on track for the fall, is now down to eight Odessa students, Moos said. Some have had to drop out because a sharp turn in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Ukrainian hryvnia has made the cost of the program “very unfavorable” to the Ukrainians, he said.
Moos said earlier that he still hopes to go forward with the program. He has been in touch with his colleagues in Odessa, who remain excited about the partnership for their students, he said. But he acknowledged that he is watching the current crisis “very, very closely” in case it spreads farther westward to the port city.
For now, Moos is hoping that the partnership will be able to launch in the fall without interference from the crisis. It would give Odessa students a chance to boost their Ukrainian degree with American credentials and provide opportunities to improve their English, which could make them more competitive in the work force. Joplin students would also stand to benefit from the exchange, he said.
“It would expand the experience of our students here to other cultures; Ukraine has a culture that is undergoing a lot of change right now,” Moos said. “And it would bring the (Ukrainian) students here to experience some American culture and establish some ties between people in the two cities, which is always good. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
THE PARTNERSHIP between Missouri Southern State University and Odessa National Maritime University in Odessa, Ukraine, would be Missouri Southern’s first agreement with a school in Eastern Europe, according to Chris Moos, chairman of the management, marketing and international business department.