Business prof honored for his work in Bulgaria
by Barbara Garrison
On December 1991, as the world watched in amazement, the Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 separate countries. Even before the communist alliance took its last official breath, University of Delaware faculty were in Bulgaria helping to lay the groundwork for its transformation from a communist to capitalist economy.
In November, the University of Sofia honored a College of Business and Economics faculty member for his pivotal role in that transformation.
Ken Koford, professor of economics, was awarded a Ph.D. Honoris Causa in economic science, for his help in resurrecting and modernizing the university's program in business administration, suspended since 1949.
George Chobanov, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sofia, awarded Koford the degree and medal and thanked him for the work he's done in Bulgaria over the past 10 years.
During the ceremony, held at the university, Koford said, "I thank you for this honor. It has been a true pleasure to come to Bulgaria and learn about this beautiful country and its beautiful people, including my wife, Blagovesta."
Koford met his Bulgarian bride, a computer network specialist at the University of Sofia, during his many trips there, and they were married in Bulgaria in May 2000. They now live in Newark.
UD's College of Business and Economics has had a strong presence in Bulgaria with Koford and Jeff Miller, also a professor of economics, working closely with the University of Sofia since shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain. In addition, professors Charles Link and Burton Abrams and associate professors Eleanor Craig, David Black and Evangelos Falaris have taught and lectured there.
When the University of Sofia reinstated its Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in 1990, there was no one to teach market economics. Koford and colleagues received a U.S. Agency for International Development grant to teach in Bulgaria and began organizing a market economics curriculum and recruiting faculty. Eventually, 12 faculty members from the University of Delaware and other schools visited Sofia to teach market economics to their Bulgarian colleagues, students and the public. But, there was still no research being done or graduate program in business administration.
Koford went back to Bulgaria in 1992 and 1994 and in 1997 stayed for a year under a Fulbright scholarship. During that year, he organized the college's first research seminar with the intention of creating a graduate program in business administration. In 2000, he returned to Bulgaria to attend the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration's fourth annual research conference and to witness a higher level of research and graduate work in that department than ever before.
Koford received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California in Los Angeles in 1977 and joined UD's College of Business and Economics faculty in 1979. Last year, he became director of the Legal Studies Program.
He has received grants from the Fulbright Foundation, USAID, National Science Foundation, the University and the National Council for Eastern European and Eurasian Research to continue his work in Bulgaria. Koford is editor of the college's Eastern Economic Journal.