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City news, 22.02.2008 10:20

Medvedev’s Teacher To Head University

The head of St. Petersburg State University, Lyudmila Verbitskaya, retired early this week and will most probably be replaced by Nikolai Kropachyov, the head of the University’s Law Department.

The Scientific Council of the University accepted Verbitskaya’s request to retire from the position of University rector on Monday. Verbitskaya will be 72 years old in June, Izvestiya daily reported, and the normal retirement age for women in Russia is 55 years old.

Upon her resignation Verbitskaya, a legendary figure to generations of students, was appointed to the honorary position of the University’s first president.

Nikolai Bulayev, head of Federal Agency of Russian Education, said the new position was created “to keep the life and professional experience of the older generation,” Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. However, he said that the president’s duties will be mainly symbolic.

The University made changes in its charter to introduce the position of the president at a conference last April. The change follows a trend in St. Petersburg’s higher educational institutions of appointing younger rectors while retaining honorary positions for former administrators.

The former heads of the city’s Polytechnical University, Finance and Economics University and Technology and Design University occupy honorary presidential positions at these institutions.

Verbitskaya will also be involved in public and scientific work directed at the development of the Russian language, a cause that during last year’s Duma elections saw her pictured on posters promoting the correct use of grammar in the name of the ruling United Russia party. Verbitskaya is closely associated with United Russia and politically close to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

Vadim Tyulpanov, head of the St. Petersburg branch of United Russia, said Verbitskaya, who is a member of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential election campaign team, will now be able to concentrate on party activities.

“I think, now [Verbitskaya] will have more time to participate in the party’s projects,” Tyulpanov said, Interfax reported.

Verbitskya has been rector of the University, which was attended by both Putin and Medvedev, as well as such historic figures as the scientist Dmitry Mendeleyev, the writer Nikolai Gogol and the Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, for the past 15 years.

In 2006, a criminal case was pursued against several of Verbitskaya’s subordinates who were subsequently charged with embezzlement of about 47 million rubles ($1.8 million), Moskovsky Komsmolets V Pitere weekly reported.

Verbitskaya was re-elected rector in 1994, 1999, and 2004. Her current term was to expire in 2009.

Kropachyov, a law professor who taught Medvedev and is said to be a confidant of Putin, has been appointed acting head of the University and is almost certain to be confirmed as full-time rector at an election on May 21.

Kropachyov, a law professor who taught Medvedev and is said to be a confidant of Putin, has been appointed acting head of the University and is almost certain to be confirmed as full-time rector at an election on May 21.

News source: Times.spb.ru

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