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Mar 8, 2013


The news is definitely out; I am leaving RIC at the end of this school year. I have accepted position at the Higher School of Economics, in Moscow. Svetlana and I are moving to Russia this summer. What were some of the pros and cons of this decision?


We like it in Rhode Island. Our two children, our son-in-law and our granddaughter live nearby. We grew to like the city, and the rest of the State. We have a great house in a nice neighborhood. I really enjoy working at RIC, have wonderful colleagues, and would like to see some of our projects to fruition. I have met many people in this State, and developed a great professional network here. The size of the State makes it a little easier than in some other places. And most importantly, I think I just started to figure out this job, and stopped making rookie mistakes.

It has been over 20 years (I came in 1991 first, Svetlana joined me in 1992, and the kids – later in the same year), and in many ways we all have become Americanized. Of course, the kids went almost completely native, but neither Svetlana nor I can pass. Yet we feel like we belong here. Notre Dame, Seattle, Bowling Green, Greeley, Providence – all of these are our home towns. From that place in my chest to every one of these places, the invisible emotional threads are tied. Pull on them, and you wake up memories, images, places, names and faces of friends. This is home, and we don’t want to leave.


We were always reluctant immigrants, with one foot in the old country. Our extended families are still there, many friends and professional connections. We did not flee poverty or prosecution, and have no bitter feelings towards Russia. We have gone back many times, almost every year since 1996. Fundamentally, we came here for education – to educate our children and to learn about the world and about this country. Well, that mission is almost accomplished. We always wanted to go back one day, although after years of telling that to people, they stop taking your seriously. I have been actually asking my Russian connections for years about a possible job back there, but nothing came up (although I interviewed for another job in Moscow in 2006). So when this opportunity came to my attention, we were intrigued. It is going to be an interesting and challenging work, but that is what adds spice to our lives, doesn’t it? The university is commonly known as Vyshka is one of the newer ones, founded in 1992 (as opposed to Moscow State University, 1755). It has become one of the leading research universities, now expanding into social sciences, humanities, and education.

We lived in Moscow in 1987-90, and still have many friends there. Maria went to her first school there. There is another invisible thread leading to that wonderful city. It has changed remarkably, and yet at some deeper level it is still the same – incredibly eclectic, both sophisticated and profane. The city has 164 stage theaters, and 116 movie theaters. And yet you could find places there that you really don’t want to find. It has some of the worst traffic, but also some of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world. It’s a maddening city, and we don’t mind that.

It is not easy, you see, and this all may be one big mistake. But we would never know until we tried.