Bulgaria’s ties to UD remain strong
As the Soviet Union started to collapse in the late 1980s, its satellite countries wrestled with the difficult task of transitioning from a centrally planned to a market economy. The U.S. State Department initiated programs to assist countries in their transitions and, after an intense competition among universities, the University of Delaware was selected to play an important role in providing educational support for Bulgaria.
In 1991 the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics received the first of several U.S. Agency for International Development grants to provide business and economics training in Bulgaria. A member of the Eastern Bloc during the Soviet period, Bulgaria was beginning the difficult process of transition to a market system.
The late Prof. Ken Koford was instrumental in writing the proposal that was administered by International Programs and Special Sessions directed by Prof. Larry Donnelly. At various stages, Koford, Jeffrey Miller and David Black headed the economics section of the program. Over the course of the program, 12 members of the economics department faculty taught in Bulgaria, and Koford received an honorary doctorate for his curriculum development at University of Sofia.
Under the grant, the Department of Economics offered a facsimile of its Master of Arts program to students in Bulgaria. Several students later came to UD for a semester and received a master’s degree; some stayed longer and were awarded a Ph.D. The program was very successful, as evidenced by the considerable success many of the graduates have attained in their careers, and close ties developed between students and faculty.
In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the first class of graduates, Prof. Burton Abrams hosted a reunion dinner at his home during the fall semester. The gathering was jointly organized by Bulgarian UD graduates living in the U.S. and also honored the retirement of Miller, who was instrumental in the success of the program in Bulgaria. Prior to the dinner, because of the time difference between Bulgaria and Delaware, a Skype reunion with graduates living in Bulgaria was held at the home of Tihomir Enev, also a graduate of the program.
Plamen Iossifov, 97M, 05PhD, recalls that his association with UD, both in Bulgaria and on campus earning master's and doctoral degrees, profoundly changed his life: “Of course, my studies at the University of Delaware paved the way for my professional realization as a macroeconomist at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. But, what I most fondly remember is the support—both personal and professional—from so many remarkable individuals at the University of Delaware.”
Valentin Vulov, 96M, an engineer, said that while taking classes he “became fascinated with the logic and science of the market economy. The professors became our advisers and friends and supported us throughout the years. We are thankful for this support and are proud to be graduates of the University of Delaware."
The success of the program is best evidenced by the successful careers of its alumni, including the following:
- Kamen Antannasov, Macroeconomic Research and Investment Analyst, Steadfast Financial;
- Tihomir Enev, Senior Scientist, Nemours Health and Prevention Services;
- Plamen Iossifov, Economist, International Monetary Fund, currently on an external assignment at the European Central Bank;
- Stela Stefanova, National Exchange Carrier Association, (telecommunications association);
- Valentin Vulov, Principal Project Manager, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority;
- Stoyan Tenev, Head of Macro Evaluations at the International Finance Corp., World Bank Group; and
- Martin Yossifov, Owner/President, Flexita LLC (online marketing).
And others, in Bulgaria:
- Anna Andonova (who died in 2012), formerly Accountant with the Fulbright Commission in Bulgaria;
- Jordan Vasilev Jordanov, Associate Professor, University of Economics, Varna, Faculty of Finance and Accounting, Department of Finance and Credit;
- Hristo Delchev Mavrov, Associate Professor, University of Economics, Varna, Faculty of Finance and Accounting, Department of General Economic Theory;
- Anastassia Miteva, Financial Officer of the Fulbright Commission in Bulgaria and Adjunct Faculty Member, Department for Language Teaching and International Students, Sofia University;
- Anton Pashov, Chief Expert, Executive Agency "Maritime Administration," Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications; and
- Stefan Petranov, Professor and Head of the Economics Department, Sofia University; Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zlaten Lev Capital Assets Management; Chairman of the National Corporate Governance Commission; and Member of the Advisory Board of the Bulgarian National Bank.