Leading educators from the United States, Canada and Europe are forming an international committee to support the European Humanities University (EHU), a Belarusian “university-in-exile” based here.
The university, originally located in Minsk, was founded in 1992 and soon gained a reputation as the leading independent institution of higher education in the former Soviet republic of Belarus. In the summer of 2004, the Government of Belarus forced EHU to cease operations, a move that was widely condemned by the international community as a violation of academic freedom. In the fall of 2004, EHU was re-established as a university-in-exile located just across the border from Belarus in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
The International Support Committee is comprised of 19 current and former university heads and other internationally prominent educators. The Committee’s co-chairs are Jonathan Fanton, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Lloyd Axworthy, President of the University of Winnipeg and former Foreign Minister of Canada. A complete list of Committee members is available.
“The members of this impressive group will serve as goodwill ambassadors for EHU,” said Fanton, who announced the Committee here today at a meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees. “They will support the University and help amplify its message of academic freedom and hope for a better future for Belarus.”
EHU offers a broad undergraduate liberal arts curriculum through both classroom instruction and distance learning, along with a number of graduate programs and research centers. Its nearly 1000 students include residents of Belarus, who participate via distance learning, and Belarusian nationals living in Vilnius. In February 2006, the Government of Lithuania granted EHU official university status. Classroom space in Vilnius is currently provided by the Mykolas Romeris University. EHU receives financial support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the European Commission, the U.S. Department of State, and several European governments.