For the first time in the history of the university, because of quarantine restrictions the rector reported about UCU’s activities to the community online. During the presentation of the rector’s report for the 2019-2020 academic year, Father Bohdan Prach, PhD, talked of the team’s successes and achievements for the year and underlined the strategic goals for the next five years.
The past year was not easy. The COVID-19 pandemic, the quarantine, and the world crisis required adjustments in all parts of life, especially in the educational process. However, the UCU team, in the words of Father Rector, not only adapted to new conditions but was able to achieve new results.
«There have been crises in UCU’s history, but after each of them our university became stronger and more experienced, demonstrating maturity and preparedness for difficult tasks. In particular, our community has shown its openness to change and desire to learn something new. We cannot overcome a crisis without understanding that UCU is a common good and achievement, where we are called to be not hired workers but its active co-creators. It is not easy to cope with whatever difficulties if everything depends on the leadership and no one takes personal responsibility for the crisis situation at the level at which your actions have an influence», – stated Fr. Bohdan Prach.
In his talk, the rector recalled the key events of the year, above all, through the prism of the work of particular people whose dedicated work best illustrated what UCU is and why it has such great support from people all over the world.
This year, UCU set a challenge for itself: «The best teachers for the best students». For excellence in teaching and the all-around development of students, teachers received various kinds of recognition.
The first category was the annual award «Teacher of the year». Three teachers were awarded: Rostyslav Hryniv, Oksana Mikheieva, and Halyna Teslyuk.
Every year, UCU’s best teachers can receive honoraria for significant achievements in educational and research activities. The Honorarium Commission honored 13 teachers this year.
«In the last year we truly felt that the university is not only an institution that teaches but one that learns», – summed up Fr. Bohdan Prach. UCU successfully introduced a program for the development of young teachers, the goal of which is to improve the organizational and administrative skills of teachers 40 years old and younger.
For the third time, the university announced a program of research grants from the Believe in Yourself charitable foundation, thanks to which teachers receive support to conduct current research. Researchers from four of UCU’s faculties won grants.
Rector’s awards provide significant support for the work of teachers. This year, five teachers received them for notable scholarly achievements: Svitlana Kohut, Sister Atanasia Smetaniak, Maria Horiacha, Roman Skakun, and Rostyslav Paranko.
UCU teacher Ivan Almes received the prestigious Jerzy Giedroyc Award from Poland.
UCU teacher Tetiana Hoshko, researcher of the Middle Ages, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on the theme «The anthropology of cities and urban law on Rus lands of the Polish crown from the 14th to the first half of the 17th centuries».
Student successes and achievements
UCU is proud that for years it has been a center for youth with a hunger to learn, a desire to develop. Proof of this is the numerous achievements of students in various fields.
Second-year students of the UCU Applied Sciences Faculty Volodymyr Fedyniak and Maksym Protsyk took part in the International Mathematics Competition for University Students 2020. As a consequence of their work, the young men won prizes at a contest at King’s College London.
Yet another student achievement is the creation of a map of organizations that provide services for participants of military actions and their families in the Lviv Region. This is part of the first service learning project in Ukraine.
Students also created games for school students to acquire financial skills: «You and finances: Who and what?» This online project is composed of 23 questions which help understand how financial frauds work and how not to be taken in by one. The game is available at: https://fst-game.ucu.org.ua/
Two teams of the UCU Applied Sciences Faculty went to the finals of Microsoft The Next AI Guardian.
Students of the master’s program of the Law School Kylyna Zabrodska and Tetiana Barashkova won the legal clinic olympics in consulting clients 2020. And so the team received the right to represent Ukraine in an international competition in the USA.
A first-year student in the Computer Sciences program, Dmytro Lopushanskyi, developed a device for the blind. It performs three functions: it recognizes color, measures the level of illumination, and warns about close obstacles. Lopushanskyi and Sofia Petryshyn were honored in Singapore, winning the Advanced Innovation Global Competition 2019.
A team of UCU students this year won second place in a contest of projects for the city budget of Lviv. They proposed the idea of developing the sorting of waste in the city.
Three UCU students together with students of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy for the first time represented Ukraine in an international model United Nations conference NMUN Germany 2019.
Yuriy Melnyk, a second-year student in the Master’s Program of the UCU Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy was honored in the second round of the All-Ukrainian Contest of Student Academic Work in the Area Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy.
A university that serves
One of UCU’s important priorities is service. In addition to education, students, teachers, and staff try in every way to serve their neighbor, and society in general, getting involved in various activities, introducing charitable projects, and implementing ideas for the common good of Ukrainians.
On June 1, the International Day for the Protection of Children, the UCU Rectorate published an address «Surrogate motherhood: Apparent mercy leads to misfortune.» This document calls the leadership of the country to make legislative changes which can stop the continued spread of this phenomenon in Ukraine.
During an integrating session, first-years worked on social projects for civic organizations of Lviv. In total, 23 social projects were proposed.
The UCU community also, with concern for the military, their families, and the elderly, continued to support and increased the number of charitable projects begun: Christmas on the Front Line, UCU’s Volunteer 100, Legal Support of Veterans, Learning Leadership. research projects, Bethlehem Hospitality, and reading literature to the blind.
The world pandemic lefts its mark on the educational process. Responding to the latest challenges, the university quickly adapted to new conditions of education and work.
When the quarantine was announced, UCU was the first among Ukraine’s higher educational institutions to go to online instruction. (Instruction did not stop at the university for a single day at the start of the quarantine.) With the new academic year, UCU is working in a hybrid format.
During the pandemic, UCU received temporary cost-free access to Coursera courses. Also, the Center for Educational and Innovative Technologies introduced ongoing support and consultation with the online education system CMS UCU, service for webinars, videoconferences, etc.
Because of quarantine restrictions, traditional large-scale events of the university went online. UCU took the challenge to become the first in Ukraine to conduct an online fundraiser, the Perelaz Folk Ball.
The quarantine did not stand in the way of the English Summer School for students and friends of UCU. This year, the school had 210 students and 40 volunteer teachers.
Regardless of the pandemic, UCU organized online commencement ceremonies for 400 graduating students.
The university conducted a successful admissions campaign: 56% of entering first-years of the university were among the country’s top 5% of high school graduates.
Firsts at UCU
A significant achievement this year was the accreditation of the Kyiv seminary through affiliation with UCU. Thanks to accreditation, graduates of Three Saints Seminary in Kyiv for the first time received an STB diploma from UCU.
The first graduating class of bachelor’s students in the Artes Liberales program and the Master’s Program in Physical and Occupational Therapy marks a good beginning.
Yet another step forward was the introduction in the 2019-2020 academic year of Worldview Core, a unique program to provide valuable development of personalities in three areas: «God and me», «People and me» and «The world and me».
UCU together with the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy won the Student Academic Mobility program of House of Europe. This joint project will allow the sharing of best practices of teaching and studying among Ukrainian universities.
An achievement in the field of history is the creation of the first digital school for historians. During the schoo,l the students catalogued and described 150 historical postcards.
UCU also became the first university in Ukraine to introduce service learning into education; socially-oriented instruction is part of the university’s Strategy-2025. This will allow students to use knowledge acquired in the classroom in practice and allow teachers to personally participate in creating social change.
In September, the university began implementing its strategy for the next five years under the motto: «A university that serves». For this time period, the university community underlined 10 goals for quality development.
As part of the strategy for the Theology Department at the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, theologians will have the opportunity to acquire additional skills and competencies in various areas, e.g., «Theology + Journalism» or «Theology + Project Management»
A culminating but not exactly final step in the expansion of educational programs at UCU is the opening of a bachelor’s program in law.
Concluding his report, Fr. Bohdan Prach thanked the UCU community for its daily work, responsibility, and self-sacrifice, which helped achieve such results.
«This report does not contain even half of what we did together in a year, for it is impossible to mention everything. I am very grateful to you for your work. When I hear the reports of our deans at the Learned Council, I feel the dynamism of the university: how our departments work well together, how we carry out what we plan and what we hope to achieve. And we have very many more such successes than were mentioned in the report», – summed up the UCU rector.
Prepared by Diana Motruk