Letter from the President

July 16, 2021

Halyna Hryn photo

In every crisis lies an opportunity, the saying goes, and as we leave behind the dark days of the COVID pandemic, we can take measure of our Society’s accomplishments and look with confidence to the future. Ever since I first joined the Society, I have understood its potential as a vibrant, intellectual community, capable of stimulating internal growth and projecting our vision outward, through engagement with the North American scholarly and intellectual world.

We have returned to our building to continue what was interrupted mid-step in March 2020. The archives, a pillar of our institutional memory and research, have undergone thorough review by certified archivist and consummate professional Michael Andrec; implementation of the review’s recommendations is in full swing. Acting on the 2018 directive of our Board, we are in the process of refurbishing the first-floor lobby and sections of the library. In this, we are fortunate to be advised by award-winning architect Larysa Kurylas, the celebrated designer of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC. Our Finance Committee informs me that our investments and cash of 7.5 million as of June 30, 2019, now stand at 8.7 million, a tribute to the professionalism of our investment advisors. We have hired new staff with careful consideration, tailoring expertise to specific needs and limiting time allocations and expense. In May, we received a generous bequest of over $200,000 from the Walter Kanytsky Trust for which we are most grateful.

On the scholarly side of our activities, I commend the programming committee and coordinator Vasyl Makhno for the high level of our virtual events. We increased English-language content and now adhere to a model of having discussants critique the presentation of the main speaker, as in our most recent discussion on language policy. Our popular in-person public events will resume this fall. The Society’s publications program has yielded two new books, with another three to be released by the end of the summer. We continue to support ongoing scholarly research and encourage you to submit proposals through your respective academic sections.

With the upcoming elections this September, we are on the threshold of a turning point as we pursue the goal of turning our Society into a modern, American-based academic institution. This has caused some understandable anxiety among those who have for decades seen themselves as custodians of this Society and its mission. Ukraine’s troubled history has often compelled us to close ranks and turn inward, causing the demise of many a worthy organization.

If we are to thrive, we must be open to new ideas and new members, to believe that they, too, have the mission of Ukrainian scholarship close at heart. Whispering campaigns targeting personal grievances and dislikes, statements such as ті люди з України and що вони знають про НТШ? have no place in a modern, 21st-century, professional organization. We must cast our net broadly, drawing on Ukrainian and Ukraine-focused academics from all parts of the US, beyond a narrow New York-centered base. Building on the strengths of the past, making the most of new talent and fresh ideas, along with the wisdom and experience of long-time members will assure our future. We must embrace this future with openness and courage, in the spirit of compromise, and place academic excellence at the forefront of our mission. This Board remains grateful for your continued support.

As always, please feel free to contact me at hryn@shevchenko.org. I will be happy to hear from you.


Halyna Hryn