DSU President renews 34-year agreement with Ukrainian Cultural Institute
DICKINSON, N.D. – Although 5,300 miles away by map, the Ukrainian culture is thriving in Dickinson, thanks to a long-term relationship between Dickinson State University (DSU) and the Ukrainian Cultural Institute (UCI).
The bond became even stronger on Friday when DSU President D.C. Coston renewed a 34-year-old agreement with the UCI at DSU’s Beck Auditorium, 291 Campus Dr. in Dickinson. The original agreement -- signed May 31, 1980 by former DSU President Albert A. Watrel and UCI founder Agnes Palanuk -- served the institutions well, said Coston.
“Strong community roots are a signature of this university,” he explained. “As our first president Samuel T. May said, ‘Enter to learn, go forth to serve.’ It is appropriate for us to renew our partnership and commitment to the Ukrainian community.”
Palanuk of Dickinson is a second-generation Ukrainian immigrant. She signed the original agreement when the fledgling UCI was seeking partners. Fortunately, Watrel was also originally from the Ukraine and offered to help Palanuk.
“He was originally from New York but held the same values of helping preserve the music, the language, the religion, the culture – all of it,” recalled Palanuk. It was so helpful to have the support of what was called Dickinson State College at that time.”
Although UCI has periodically used other facilities during the past three decades, it has consistently partnered with DSU during its annual Ukrainian Festival. A major component of the event is a two-week Ukranian Cultural Workshop held on the DSU campus. More than 70 youth grades pre-K – 12 have been immersed in the Ukranian culture while attending classes and rehearsals. Some students and their families traveled from as far away as Nevada and the Southeast to attend, said Palanuk.
A variety of performances and presentations continue July 18 and 19 at DSU. Of note is the premier of “Hardship to Freedom” at 7 p.m. on Friday in Beck Auditorium at Klinefelter Hall. The documentary depicts first-generation immigrant stories as families relocated to free land in North Dakota during the late 1800s.Palanuk estimated the current Ukrainian population at 1,000 in Dickinson and the surrounding area and as many as 25,000 statewide.
There also is Ukrainian, Native American, Irish, Blue Grass and contemporary singing and dancing, as well as food, arts, crafts, and vendors from 3:45 to 7 p.m. on Friday on the DSU front campus. For information, call the UCI at (701) 483-1486.
Photo: D.C. Coston, president of Dickinson State University, displays the new Memorandum of Understanding with Loretta Fazekas, president of the Ukrainian Cultural Institute Board of Directors.