Dr. Dan E. Davidson, President of American Councils for International Education and Vice-Chair, EHU Governing Board, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations on the need to support international exchange, research, and training programs—in the regions of the world deemed critical for U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.
Davidson drew particular attention to the importance of academic exchange and educational development activities in East Europe and Eurasia, where bloodshed, immense social dislocation, and serious political divisions have recently occurred.
Testifying on March 24, 2015, before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Dr. Davidson recommended funding for FY 2016 in the State, Foreign Operations bill at $630 million for programs under the U.S. Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), a level slightly above that requested by the Obama Administration. The Subcommittee was chaired by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) with Nita Lowey (D-New York) the ranking member with a total participation of six Committee members.
Among assistance programs, Dr. Davidson singled out three initiatives that are making a major difference within East Europe: 1) the support of transparent, merit-based scholarships and university admissions testing in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Ukraine; 2) strong trans-Atlantic support for the European Humanities University (EHU), which was forcibly closed by the Lukashenko regime in 2004 and has been operating since as a Belarusian university in Vilnius, Lithuania; and 3) the Title VIII research and training program for U.S. scholars and graduate students committed to the serious study of East Europe, Russia and Eurasia.
Commenting specifically on EHU, Davidson acknowledged past support by the US Congress for EHU, which he characterized as “a highly visible symbol of academic freedom in the region. But EHU is also an operating institution that must meet budgetary, personnel and accreditation requirements like any other European university,” he reminded the legislators.
“66% of EU graduates are currently active and employed inside Belarus. They are the real future leaders of Belarus and our hope is that the University will soon be able to resume certain of its instructional operations inside Belarus, even in the coming year. As EHU now faces re-accreditation, I urge the Sub-Committee to keep the support of this unique Belarusian institution foremost in mind,” Davidson concluded.
Later this spring, the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its review of the assistance accounts within the President’s budgetary request for FY 2016.