Mission & History

The University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) is dedicated to advancing and disseminating interdisciplinary knowledge about the peoples, nations, and cultures of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia, past and present. Through its own academic programs and its support of area-focused training and scholarship across U-M's schools and colleges, CREES helps meet the nation's ongoing need for experts with deep contextual knowledge who are proficient in the region's languages. Through its outreach programs, CREES serves as a local, state, Midwest, and national resource on the region, providing instructional and informational services to the public, K-12 and postsecondary educators, media, government, business, and other constituencies.

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan: Historical Timeline

1910: Instruction in Russian language is introduced at the University of Michigan.

1939: The Department of Russian is established with a four-year curriculum.

1945: The Department of History appoints Andrei Lobanov-Rostovsky as its first professor of Russian history.

1946: The Committee on the Program in Russian Studies is established in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to administer Bachelor's and Master's Degree Programs in Russian Studies.

1952: The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures is established and begins offering a Master's Degree Program in Russian.

1958: A Ph.D. Program in Slavic Languages and Literatures is initiated.

1958: An interdepartmental survey course on the Soviet Union is introduced.

1959: The University of Michigan is designated a Slavic Language and Area Center under Title VI of the National Defense Education Act by the U.S. Office of Education.

April 21, 1961: The Regents of the University of Michigan approve the establishment of the Center for Russian Studies, effective May 1, 1961.

Fall 1961: A Certificate in Russian Studies, designed to provide graduate students with multi-disciplinary training in Russian area studies as they pursue M.A. or Ph.D. disciplinary degrees, is introduced to replace the Center's Master's Degree in Russian Studies.

January 1, 1967: The Center's name is changed to Center for Russian and East European Studies to recognize U-M's increasing research and training on Eastern Europe.

1969-70: The Center's Bachelor's Degree in Russian Studies is replaced by a Bachelor's Degree in Russian and East European Studies.

1973: A Master's Degree in Russian and East European Studies is introduced to replace the Center’s graduate-level Certificate.

1973: The Nicolaus Copernicus Endowment is established at the University of Michigan to mark the 500th anniversary of the Polish astronomer's birth and as the repository for funds to support Polish studies at U-M in perpetuity.

mid-1970s: CREES embarks on a long-range effort leading to the establishment of joint or dual graduate-level degree programs with the Department of Communication, School of Business Administration, Law School, and Institute for Public Policy Studies.

1991: The CREES endowment campaign tops $1 million, thereby fulfilling the goal of the Mellon Foundation's matching grant award to the Center.

1993: The University of Michigan International Institute is established, with CREES among its constituent units.

1995: The Dual Master's Degree Program in Russian and East European Studies and Natural Resources and Environment is introduced, the first of its kind in the U.S.

1997: CREES and other area centers move from Lane Hall into the International Institute's new quarters in the School of Social Work Building.

2000: CREES receives approval to offer Undergraduate Academic Minors in Russian Studies and in East European Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Russian and East European Studies.

2008: CREES becomes an affiliate of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, a new unit at the International Institute that works in common association with the Center for European Studies, CREES, and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies.

2010: CREES adds “Eurasian” to its name in recognition of the extensive cross-disciplinary expertise at U-M on the Caucasus and Central Asia. (more info)

2011: CREES celebrates it's 50th anniversary with an alumni-focused conference and reunion.

2011: CREES receives approval to offer the Undergraduate Academic Minor in Central Eurasian Studies.

2014: The University of Michigan announces the establishment of the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies, formalizing the status of the university's rich offerings in Polish studies.