The visit was jointly organized by UNE and the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco as part of an effort to engage world leaders in democratic exchanges
The University of New England recently welcomed a delegation of Ukrainian energy officials for a tour of UNE’s campus, an overview of the University’s academic programming, and discussions on the University’s initiatives and coursework in the fields of sustainability and renewable energy.
The visit, jointly organized by UNE and the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco, took place as part of the Open World Leadership Center program (OpenWorld), an international exchange agency program hosted by the U.S. government that offers cultural exchanges for Eurasian leaders to witness democracy building in action.
UNE welcomed Vladyslav Maksadov, state expert of the Expert Group for the Development of Renewable Energy, Directorate of the Energy Complex and Development of the Electricity Market, Ministry of Energy of Ukraine; Oleksandr Mykhailovsky, head of the Division of Alternative and Renewable Electricity, Development of the Electricity Market Support, Department of the Energy Market, National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC); and Iryna Zolotoverkha, head of department, NEURC.
Snizhana Mykytyn, facilitator for Ukrainian exchange programs with OpenWorld, and OpenWorld translator Olga Shostachuk also joined the delegation.
As part of their time on campus, the delegates met with UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D., to discuss the state of renewable energy in America — as their own country grapples with energy challenges amid the ongoing war — and ways UNE makes use of renewable energy sources.
The group was then treated to a tour of sustainability initiatives and landscaping across campus — including the University’s rainfall capture garden, native flower gardens, and the Danielle N. Ripich Commons — led by Alethea Cariddi, M.S.Ed., assistant director of sustainability at UNE, followed by a tour of the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center (and its famed multicolored lobsters) under the guide of Charles Tilburg, Ph.D., academic director of the School of Marine and Environmental Programs and director of the center.
“It was a pleasure hosting our guests from Ukraine and having the opportunity to show them our facilities and discuss the different initiatives at both UNE and in Ukraine,” Tilburg reflected. “I am so happy that we were able to share stories on education, sustainability, and energy. I sincerely hope that we will be able to build on this initial visit to create a true partnership.”
Cariddi noted that the University’s campus beehives were a big hit with the visitors. “It was interesting to compare and contrast with them the husbandry challenges between our climates,” she remarked.
Brenda Pollock, president of the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco, said the visit gave the delegation insight into the U.S. higher education system and how it prepares students to become leaders in their communities. She also noted UNE’s role as a partner in fostering connections between the Biddeford-Saco area and allies from across the globe.
“UNE is such an incredible staple in our community, so showing this Ukrainian delegation what a U.S. university system can look like was one of the highlights of their week,” Pollock remarked. “They shared with us how Ukrainians value education, and higher education is part of their undergraduate preparation and discipline for students in Ukraine.”
President Herbert said the visit was an opportunity to forge new connections while working to pioneer renewable energy and infrastructure solutions. He also wished them well, calling them “newfound friends.”
“It was a distinct honor to welcome this delegation from the Ukrainian government to discuss infrastructure, particularly rebuilding following the war with an eye toward sustainability,” Herbert stated. “I was so impressed by their strength and resilience. Slava Ukraini!”