College Hosts Visitor from Azerbaijan

College Hosts Visitor from Azerbaijan


SUNY Cortland recently hosted a visiting official from Khazar University, a private school in the Middle Eastern nation of Azerbaijan whose president is a Cortland graduate and the former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Khazar University President John Ryder’s Cortland roots – as well as SUNY Cortland’s success at institutional development and continued involvement with the Project on Eastern and Central Europe – helped make Cortland an important stop on the American itinerary of Khazar’s director of development.

Raziya Isayeva met with selected SUNY Cortland staff and faculty from April 24 through April 27. It was the last stop on an information-gathering tour of American-style college fund-raising that took her to schools in Ohio, Vermont and New York City.

“I have learned a lot,” said Isayeva.

Her Cortland visit was coordinated by Henry Steck, a professor in the Department of Political Science and coordinator of the Project on Eastern and Central Europe; a program created by Ryder and Steck that cultivates academic links between SUNY Cortland and several European universities.

Ryder, a 1973 SUNY Cortland graduate, was a member of the university’s faculty from 1980 to 2002. He served as chair of the Philosophy Department from 1991 to 1996, and was dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 1996 through 2002.  Ryder then served as director of the SUNY Office of International Programs until he was appointed rector of Khazar University in September.

Khazar is a private university with 1,700 students in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; a former Soviet Union republic that straddles the boundary of Europe and Asia between Russia and Iran. Ryder was hired to modernize the school using western education models.

Part of this modernization involves generating revenue from gifts and donations. To that end, Isayeva spent two days in Cortland meeting with President Erik Bitterbaum and staff from the College’s Division of Institutional Advancement, which includes alumni affairs, public relations, the Cortland Fund, the Cortland College Foundation, publications and other operations related to gift-giving.

Isayeva also met with faculty members who have a particular interest in Eastern and Central European affairs, including Steck and Thomas Pasquarello (political science), Girish Bhat and Scott Moranda (history), Sharon Steadman (anthropology), Paulo Quaglio (modern languages) and Craig Little (sociology). In addition, she met with representatives from the Clark Center for International Education.