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Polish Historian Wojciech Roszkowski Named To Miller Center’s Kosciuszko Chair In Polish Studies

June 16, 2000 -- Wojciech Roszkowski, formerly director of the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, has been named as the first professor to hold the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. While at the center, he will conduct studies on 20th-century Polish history, politics and democratic transformation.

The Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies was inaugurated at the Miller Center in October 1998, after completion of a $500,000 chair endowment campaign. At that time, Lech Walesa, former president of the Republic of Poland and chairman of the honorary committee for the establishment of the chair, said, "We can work together only when we know each other. Lack of knowledge causes misunderstanding, prejudice and conflict. ... From the time of [Gen. Casimir] Pulaski and [Tadeusz] Kosciuszko, the contributions of Polish ethnic groups have been part of the American cultural heritage. I believe that the chair will keep this heritage alive." Pulaski and Kosciuszko both fought with the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War; Kosciuszko was a friend of Thomas Jefferson, and the two often discussed democracy together.

The Kosciuszko chair could not have become a reality without the sponsorship of the American Institute of Polish Culture and the personal generosity, vision and leadership of its president and founder, Lady Blanka A. Rosenstiel. For the greater part of a decade, Rosenstiel worked closely with Miller Center senior scholar Kenneth W. Thompson, then the center’s director, to organize a series of conferences, forums, and small group discussions at the Miller Center focusing on the Polish constitution, its government, and some of the central challenges facing the country as it becomes a democracy.

"During this period, we became acquainted with Polish leaders in education, the legislature and the courts," Thompson said. "We came to realize the similarities and differences between Poland and other Western countries, particularly the United States. What became clear to all of us was that Poland has a rich tradition of constitutional government, history, culture and economic development. This led naturally to our desire to create a permanent form of study, discussions and writing on Polish society and governance."

Roszkowski also has been a professor of history at the Warsaw School of Economics. He has held research and teaching positions at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland. His books include Half a Century: World Political History After 1945 and Land Reforms in Central Europe after World War I. He has written extensively for such publications as East European Quarterly and the Journal of European Economic History, and he contributes often to programs on Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and the BBC.

"We welcome the appointment of Professor Wojciech Roszkowski as holder of the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at the Miller Center," Rosenstiel said. " He is certain to fulfill our vision for the advancement of Polish studies in the United States and to enhance American understanding of the history, culture, government and economy of Poland as it takes its place again among modern European states. The friendship between Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Thomas Jefferson began with their common interests in freedom and liberty for their countries. It is fitting that this chair be established at Mr. Jefferson’s university."

The Miller Center at the University of Virginia links the local and University community to the wider world of national and international affairs. The center is also among the country’s premier sites for studying and understanding the American presidency and the executive branch of government.

Contact: Margaret Edwards, (804) 924-7236

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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