Building the Future with Tomsk State University

Building the Future with Tomsk State University

This time, TSU Rector Eduard Galazhinskiy discusses important traditions and opportunities offered by the university and its partner, the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation, to students, master's and postgraduate students. This material will be of interest to TSU applicants, as well as its alumni and partners who wish to contribute to the university's history.

– Professor Galazhinskiy, another "hot" season begins at the university – graduation qualifications defenses, diploma ceremonies, and, of course, the admissions campaign. While most future TSU applicants are currently busy taking the Unified State Exam, they will soon want to learn more about our university and the opportunities it offers. To do this, they will visit the main TSU website. Naturally, the information is extensive, diverse, and spread across different sections. Future applicants and their parents will likely be interested in exploring your blog as well. What would you like to tell them today, and perhaps even a wider audience?

– TSU's activities are so multifaceted and its potential so high that it is difficult to cover everything in a short interview. Therefore, I will focus on one significant example that illustrates both aspects of our university's life and the opportunities for those who wish to be a part of it. I am referring to a series of April events held under the banners of Tomsk State University and the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

This series included the scientific-practical conference "Project Legacy and University Transformation," a roundtable on the formation and development of endowment funds in education, and three discussion platforms. The latter were dedicated to the "third mission" of the university, city and university museums, as well as business games and project seminars in education. All these events were diverse, but they were united by the participation of both university teachers and staff, as well as students and master's students who are foundation scholarship recipients. This is one of the foundation's main traditions: the best university youth receive not only financial support but also the opportunity to participate in discussions on pressing issues related to domestic higher education, their future professions, finding reliable employers, participating in university and university city cultural policies, volunteering, and more.


Perhaps many future TSU students will be interested to know that the Potanin Foundation holds over 20 open competitions annually, most of which focus on education. Independent experts sel ect the best student projects or students to receive support and further develop their potential. Students and master's students fr om all TSU faculties participate in these competitions. Winners receive scholarships until the end of their studies. This academic year, the scholarship amount was 25,000 rubles per month. Students are also eligible to participate in other scholarship competitions. In total, financial support fr om the government and other structures for the most talented and proactive students can reach 50,000 rubles or more per month. Incidentally, I was also a Potanin scholarship recipient, but as a teacher, not a student, as such competitions did not exist at that time.

Thanks to the foundation, several new educational programs have been developed at TSU, and others are still in progress. This is particularly relevant today, as the National Research Tomsk State University is one of six leading universities in Russia entrusted by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation to implement a pilot project for improving the domestic higher education system. It is safe to say that our applicants are fortunate: starting from the new academic year, TSU will offer 43 fundamentally new programs within the framework of higher and higher specialized education! Not all universities have such a wide range of choices.

–        Does Tomsk State University engage in charitable activities? Or is this not within its scope, especially considering the existence of dedicated charitable foundations like the Potanin Foundation?

–          We, like the organizers of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, recognize that relying solely on government funding is insufficient to maintain a high standard of higher education, particularly for implementing innovative educational programs, especially during challenging times for the nation. Therefore, everyone capable should contribute to this noble cause. This is why TSU prioritizes the development of its own endowment fund.

Endowment funds are established through voluntary financial contributions that are not spent directly but instead entrusted to professional management companies. The income generated from this management is then directed towards purposes defined by the donors, while the foundation's principal continues to generate returns.

Young people may be interested to learn that one of the most renowned and influential endowment funds globally was established by the esteemed Swedish chemist, engineer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Alfred Nobel. While best known as the inventor of dynamite, Nobel held over 350 patents. There's a legend that he "died" twice, the first time being a false obituary published by journalists, portraying him as the enemy of humanity for creating the most potent weapon of the time. Upon seeing this obituary, the "deceased" was deeply disturbed and resolved to drastically change his public image, aiming to be remembered as a pacifist and peacemaker. To achieve this, he established his charitable foundation using the vast wealth generated by his numerous dynamite factories across dozens of countries and continents. Since the early 1900s, the income from this foundation has been annually distributed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, awarding prizes for the most significant and original discoveries or intellectual achievements in fields like chemistry, physics, physiology and medicine, literature, and peace initiatives. The title of Nobel Prize laureate is the most prestigious recognition in these fields. The motto of the prize is: "Invention makes life better, and art makes it more beautiful."

During the April Potanin events at TSU, a roundtable discussion was held addressing the formation and development of university endowment funds in Russia. This is a relatively new phenomenon in modern Russia, absent just two decades ago. However, at one point, the culture of philanthropy in education was deeply ingrained in our country. As you know, our Imperial Tomsk University was initially established primarily through the generosity of domestic patrons: Alexander Stroganov, Pavel Demidov, Alexander Sibiryakov, and Zakhariy Tsibulsky. Their portraits are displayed in the university gallery, wh ere the grand opening on September 5, 2023, on International Day of Charity, was attended by Oksana Oracheva, the general director of the Potanin Foundation. Now, in a new era, Tomsk State University has once again become a pioneer, being among the first universities in the country to establish its own endowment fund.


–         What specific results of the TSU Endowment Fund's work can we discuss today?

Speaker: In its 13 years of existence, the TSU Endowment Fund has become a powerful tool for targeted funding of strategic and significant initiatives, benefiting the wider community. This includes supporting music education at TSU, the Botanical Garden, various publishing projects, and more. TSU Endowment Fund scholarships are awarded to both Russian and international students and master's degree candidates at our university. Throughout these years, the president of TSU, Professor Georgy Vladimirovich Mayer, has served as the chairman of the board of the Tomsk State University Endowment Fund. His deep understanding of the university's history, traditions, and current strategic goals is invaluable in shaping and implementing the fund's policy.

Georgy Mayer, TSU President, Chairman Of the Board of the TSU Endowment Fund:

The most promising direction in the Endowment Fund's development is fostering collaboration between faculties and industrial partners. These partners are interested not only in implementing new developments but also in raising the professional level of their personnel. This can be achieved through establishing scholarships for talented students, supporting research projects, and other initiatives.


Currently, the TSU Endowment Fund boasts over 2,000 donors! This includes numerous TSU graduates from all eras and entire families who formed their bonds at our university. For instance, Timur Khismatullin, a graduate of the TSU Faculty of Economics, established a named scholarship to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He annually increases his donations, and today, his scholarship program benefits over 175 students. Sardon Sharap, a postgraduate student at the Institute of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, makes annual donations to the endowment capital on New Year's Eve, stating, "In gratitude for the education received and for the development of the university. I wish TSU sustainable development."

The TSU Endowment Fund has already established six endowment funds, two of which were initiated directly by TSU graduates. The first is the endowment capital of the Faculty of Chemistry (EC No. 2). It was created by Alexei Knyazev, a third-generation chemist who graduated from the TSU Faculty of Chemistry in 2001, earned his doctoral degree in 2013, and founded the TSU Engineering Chemical and Technological Center in 2014.

Alexei Knyazev (for RIA Tomsk):

As a graduate of the Faculty of Chemistry, a third-generation chemist, I feel a kind of "call of ancestors" — a subconscious need to invest in my alma mater. When I received my first scholarships and salaries, I naturally spent most of them on consumables and reagents for my laboratory. (…) I believe the fund should primarily support students. One example is named scholarships — I want to establish a scholarship named after Larisa Kurina, my grandmother, who founded the school of catalytic research at the faculty. However, there can never be too many scholarships, and their value can't be increased indefinitely; it could have negative consequences. I have heard many stories of students receiving large scholarships, only to find that their market value is much lower, forcing them to work harder. Therefore, only a small percentage of students – perhaps 10-15% – should receive increased scholarships. (…) I hope to create a tradition: upon graduating and achieving success, students will remember the many positive experiences they had as students thanks to previous graduates who invested in the endowment. It is both right and honorable to express gratitude to your alma mater when you achieve a position of influence in society.

The second endowment capital (No. 6) focuses on "developing data analytics at the university and implementing socially significant projects based on artificial intelligence." It is entirely funded by the startup at the TSU laboratory of applied analysis of big data, the IT company "Academy of Data-Diving," led by Vyacheslav Goyko, a graduate of the TSU Faculty of Physics and Technology. In 2013, Vyacheslav received a scholarship from the Potanin Foundation. He established the laboratory of applied analysis of big data in 2016, became a laureate of the CDO AWARD in 2021, and initiated the formation of the corresponding endowment capital within the TSU Endowment Fund in 2024. The income from this endowment capital is used for various purposes: scholarships for students and postgraduate students; support for research and applied projects using artificial intelligence; popularization of AI in new scientific and economic fields; development of education in data analytics and applied AI; and encouraging students to solve problems for industrial partners.

Vyacheslav Goyko (for Interfax):

The endowment capital is created to develop data analytics and implement AI-based projects to address socially significant problems. (…) We aim to provide scholarships to talented students and postgraduate students. We also plan to support research and applied projects. Most importantly, we recognize the vast potential of AI in numerous scientific areas, which unfortunately remains untapped due to a lack of reliable data sets. The university is an ideal environment for gathering large amounts of data, which can be packaged and made readily available. We will support these initiatives to create new and trusted datasets.


These two examples clearly demonstrate how the lives of individuals, their families, and their fellow students are intertwined with the futures of generations to come, and indeed, with the fate of Imperial Tomsk University itself. This connection is not only symbolic but also deeply real. Students enter TSU, learn passionately, fall in love, start families, and pursue diverse careers or remain at the university after graduation. They conduct research, launch startups, and establish named scholarships for the brightest TSU students, who in turn, study with enthusiasm... and so the cycle continues! This is how the history of the university is shaped, a history to which those entering TSU this year can also contribute. Our university truly offers a WORLD of opportunities and potential for personal and professional growth for anyone seeking to connect their fate with it. Discover it for yourself!

TSU Rector Eduard Galazhinskiy, member of the Council for Science and Education under the President of the Russian Federation

The interview was recorded by Irina Kuzheleva-Sagan


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