Ph.D., Associate Professor V.N. Shlyakhtov
Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport, Velikie Luki
Keywords: Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport, regional specialists’ training centre, academic and research personnel, Academy's sports fame
June 19, 2015 is the anniversary date for the Federal State-Funded Educational Institution of Higher Professional Education Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport (VLGAFK). It was on this day 45 years ago that the Velikie Luki Order of Lenin, Red Banner Branch of P.F. Lesgaft Institute of Physical Culture was established in the Pskov region by the Order of the Committee of Physical Culture and Sports of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR #257 dated June 19, 1970; and in compliance with the Regulation of the RSFSR Council of Ministers #371 dated June 10, 1970.
Any anniversary marks a certain life span and gives the opportunity to look back and assess the accomplishments. The Institute being established back in 1970 was motivated by the urgent demand for physical culture and sport specialists and, consequently, for the relevant educational centres in the North-Western region of the country. One of the top priority objectives that were set for the Institute was to train physical education teachers and coaches for a wide variety of sports disciplines.
It was Vladimir Ivanovich Margo who was appointed the first head of the newly established higher education institution, and it was under his efficient leadership (in the period of 1970 to 1974) that the fundamental budgeting and engineering assets of the establishment were formed and deployed and the backbone teaching staff was recruited . In the period of 1974 through 1977 the educational establishment was managed by Professor Valentin Michailovich Blinov, Merited Worker of Physical Culture of the RSFSR and Master of Sport (skiing) of the USSR. It was largely due to his persistent efforts and excellent management skills that the Institute succeeded in construction of the modern Ski Base in the Senchitsky Pine Forest; and the Education and Training Centre that offers five specialized sport venues and a swimming pool for the university athletes; in addition, the students’ hostel construction was completed at the same time .
Status of the newly founded higher education institution was revised twice during the V.M. Blinov’s service term at the office. In the period of 1977 to 1992 the establishment operated as a Branch of Moscow Institute of Physical Culture and Sport; and in 1992 it was reformed and renamed to Velikie Luki State Institute of Physical Culture and Sports as provided by the Russian Federation Government Committee for Olympic Movement Order #43 dated February 17, 1992 and pursuant to the Russian Federation Government Regulation #204 dated March 31, 1992.
In the period of 1997 to 2012 the Institute was managed by Professor Ruslan Mikhaylovich Gorodnichev, Honoured Worker of Physical Culture and Sport of the RSFSR, President of Velikie Luky Olympic Academy, and Doctor of Biological Sciences. It was on his initiative that academic curricula for six new specialities were introduced, post-graduate courses were opened and a Research Institute of Sport and Health-improving Physical Culture was established in the Institute. It was under his management that the budgeting and engineering assets of the Institute were further improved and expanded to better support the educational process, research work and sports training of students. It was due to the good management of R.M. Gorodnichev that in May 2003 the Institute successfully passed the state accreditation procedure and received a formal state-accreditation-based status of Academy. The new status was endorsed by the RSFSR State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport Order #617 dated June 31, 2003, and the institution was renamed to the Federal State-Funded Educational Institution of Higher Professional Education Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport. It was due to the efforts of Ruslan Mikhaylovich Gorodnichev that the Academy was integrated into the international research and education academic community and very soon succeeded in establishing the local academic research school specialized in sport physiology studies. It was under his academic supervision and control that 12 PhD and 3 doctoral theses were defended during his time at the office.
The institution changed its formal status when was upgraded from Institute to Academy, but its top priority objective has never been revised and its activity has been always geared to give the top-quality education to its graduates. No wonder that the Academy is ranked today among the best institutions of the higher education sector largely due to the sound budgeting and engineering assets and the excellent teaching staff formed through the prudential policies and strategies enthusiastically designed and pursued by the former and present management supported by the academic community and the founders under leadership of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation. The Academy today owns excellent education and training venues and facilities supported by sound financial and engineering basis; its assets include four academic buildings, ski base, sports arena, students’ hostel and modern library with a reading hall, all the facilities being deployed close to one another and convenient.
Our Academy is very popular among would-be university entrants coming from both the areas of the Pskov, Tver and Novgorod regions in the close neighbourhood of Velikie Luki and from more distant places of the Russian Federation. It should be proudly noted that virtually 100 percent of graduates of the Academy find jobs as soon as they leave the lecture rooms. As things now stand, the Academy offers special training curricula for specialists in four consolidated speciality groups/ classes, namely: 49.00.00 Physical Culture and Sport; 44.00.00 Education and Pedagogical Sciences; 38.00.00 Economics and Management; and 43.00.00 Services and Tourism. In addition, the Academy offers the following two curricula for high-skilled specialist training: 49.06.01 Physical Culture and Sport; and 06.06.01 Biological Sciences; as well as additional professional education curricula. At present about 1000 students attend academic studies on the three Faculties of the Academy. Over 4.5 thousand graduates have been trained in the Academy for the past 45 years.
The educational and training processes in the Academy are run under control of highly skilled teaching staff. The 11 Departments of the Academy are staffed by 89 teachers including professors, doctors of sciences, PhDs, masters of sports, honoured workers and high-ranked specialists of physical culture and sport of the Russian Federation. Above 70% of the teaching staff have academic degrees and titles. Therefore, it can be stated with confidence that the Academy has achieved a good balance of mature experience and young enthusiasm in the present academic staff and it is capable of running the educational process so as to meet the strict requirements to the modern education services with due regard to upcoming trends in the specialist education and training processes and standards, to secure highly-skilled specialist education both for the national physical culture and sport sector and the relevant branches.
For the last eight years, the Academy has successfully implemented and operated the internal education quality assessment system. This system is designed in full compliance with the modern requirements to the electronic-data-based education models as set forth by the relevant federal state education standards that secure the 3+ generation level of education. This means that the above system has enough capacities and functions to ensure: fixing and reporting of progress in the educational process; reporting of the interim knowledge assessment results and the basic academic curriculum performance results; and generating of an electronic portfolio for every student.
Sport activities have been always ranked among the top priority sectors of the academic curricula. Therefore, it is no wonder that the Academy in different years has provided excellent education and training to many famous athletes, champions and medallists of Olympic Games, World and European Championships and Finals, World Universiades and many Russian National competitions that may be named as follows: Valery Chaplygin, Honoured Master of Sport, Olympic Champion of 1976 (men's 100km team road race); Mikhail Ivanov, Honoured Master of Sport, Olympic Champion of 2002 (cross country skiing men's 50km individual ski race); Dmitry Alenichev, Honoured Master of Sport, entitled the Best Football Player of Russia of 1997, four-times Champion of Russia, the UEFA Cup winner and the Football Champions League winner of 2004 (as a team player of “Portu” FC, Portugal), presently the Chief Coach of “Arsenal” Premier League FC, Tula city); Sergei Matveyev, Honoured Master of Sport, Olympic Bronze Medallist of 1996 in the rowing competitions awarded a second-class medal of the Order of Merit for the Motherland”; Olga Sokolova, Honoured Master of Sport, World Champion of 1991 and 1993 in the 50km cycling road race; Nina Cheremisina, Honoured Master of Sport, three-times World Champion, the XXII Olympic Silver and Bronze rowing Medallist; Svetlana Semionova, Honoured Master of Sport, three-times World Champion, the XXII Olympic rowing Bronze Medallist; Maria Stepanova, Honoured Master of Sport, the XXVIII Olympic Bronze Medallist of 2004 in Athens and the XXIX Olympic Bronze Medallist of 2008 in Beijing; Yulia Martisova and Alexandra Burchenkova, World Class Masters of Sport in cycling etc.
It may be important to report in this context the latest accomplishments of many students and graduates of the Academy for the last five years since the 40th Anniversary was celebrated, as follows: Ivan Makarov, student, Honoured Master of Sport, the ХХVI Summer Deaflympic Champion and Silver Medal Winner of 2013 in Sofia; Konstantin Shabanov, Mohammed Shekhov and Sergey Samoylovich, competitors in the Olympic Games of 2012 in London; Ivan Kuilakov, World Cup Champion of 2013 in Greco-Roman- wrestling; Dmitry Saveliev, Honoured Master of Sport, six-times bandy World Champion; Alexei Burdonos, Students’ World Games kickboxing Champion of 2014 etc. At present more than 40 students of the Academy are competing for the national teams of Russian Federation in many sports disciplines.
Top priority is being given by the Academy to the efforts to improve the quality of research projects with contributions of the most gifted and active students, postgraduate and doctoral students. Since 2009 the VLGAFK-based Research Institute for Sport and Health-improving Physical Culture has been implementing joint research projects (on a mutually beneficial basis) with participation of and contributions from the Russian and foreign organizations and institutions, including but not limited by the following: Pavlov Institute of Physiology, St. Petersburg, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS); Institute of Biomedical Problems, RAS, Moscow; and the University of California (UC) Humanities Research Institute, Los Angeles, USA. These research projects are intended to support and develop the innovation-technology-focused studies designed to improve the efficiency of the elite athletes’ training process for the benefit of the sport reserves of the national teams of the Russian Federation. These projects are expected to produce, among other deliverables, such results that will help perform the State Order of the Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policies of the RF for the period of 2012-14 called “Development of the methodology to shape up and excel special strengths of elite athletes (case study of archery)”. In should be noted in addition that the Academy gives the highest priority to every initiative to lure additional finance to support research projects through active involvement in different competitions and grant programs. Many research projects are supported by the grant financing provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Russian Scientific Fund that have helped, among other sources, raise the international grant financing in 2014 for the Academy. Furthermore, the Academy rates among its best accomplishments for 2014 two successful doctoral thesis defences by young scientists (under 40 years of age), namely A.A. Chelnokov and O.V. Lanskaya.
Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport gives major attention to the initiatives to help expand and reinforce its international connections. These initiatives are largely facilitated by the geographical advantage since the home Pskov region is located close to the national border and therefore convenient for the trans-border public initiatives and exchanges of the EU- and Russia-based organizations and individuals willing to establish partnerships for the benefit of different projects. Being one of the leaders of international cooperation among Russian physical culture and sport institutions, the Academy is proud to have established contacts with at least 27 partner universities from 21 countries and, in addition, actively cooperate with many reputable organizations, including the following: International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE); International University Association for Physical Culture and Sports (IUAPCS); and International Network of Sport and Health Science (INSHS). Furthermore, some members of the Academy hold positions among the most active members of a few international organizations, including the following: European College of Sport Science (ECSS); Society for Neuroscience (SfN); International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport (ISHPES); and the Baltic Society of Sport Sciences (BSSS). Every year scientists from the Academy are invited to join major upcoming international congresses and conferences organized under the auspices of these organizations.
It was largely due to the active international cooperation of the Academy that, in the period of 2007 through 2009, it entered into a joint project with Tartu University and successfully implemented the International Grant-supported Project “Cross-border Cooperation of Velikie Luki and Tartu Universities to Implement the Unified European Education Standards at the Regional Level”. The total project cost was estimated at Euro 300 thousand, and 90% of the amount was covered by the European partners.
One more high-priority sector of the Academy’s activity is the tutorial work designed to foster active approaches, independence, purposefulness, mature civil positions, devotion to the home university, city and country, and deep respect to the local traditions and laws among the students. Central roles in this work are being played by the Faculty dean’s offices, Department heads and leaders and the academic group curators. They closely cooperate with the students’ trade union committees and the students’ councils in the joint efforts to better involve students in the ongoing social, research, scientific, creative and volunteer projects. The Academy is proud to have fostered popular students’ teams that came to success as winners and runner-ups of many different creative competitions and events, including national ones. In the anniversary year of 2015 the Academy successfully opened a Museum of Sport and Olympic Movement in the Pskov Area, in it was widely acknowledged as a spectacular event in the academic life. The Museum is intended to serve not only as an accumulator of historic records and evidence of the university and local sports and Olympic traditions, but as an important interactive component of the education and training process too. Visitors of the newly opened Museum were invited to the exhibition called “Our Academy and the XXII Winter Olympic Games” to demonstrate the important contribution of VLGAFK students, graduates and professorial staff to the XXII Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (in Sochi) organization and management efforts.
Summarizing the above, it should be stated that Velikie Luki State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport successfully operates as a regional education centre that offers continuous multilevel training of highly-skilled, knowledgeable and competitive physical culture and sports specialists that are always in high demand on the labour markets which means that they acquire excellent social standing due to the high quality education that gives them ample professional opportunities; and they are well prepared and fast-responding to the variable requirements and situations. The state accreditation of the Academy in 2012 confirms that the Academy demonstrates successful sustainable development within the national higher education system that is largely secured by its highly-skilled academic and research personnel. These good accomplishments give every reason to expect further successes from the Academy.
- 1. Fizicheskaya kul'tura i sport Velikikh Luk: istoriya i sovremennost' (Physical Culture and Sport in Velikie Luki: History and Modernity) / Ed. by Dr.Biol., professor R.M. Gorodnichev. – V. Luki, 2002. – 292 P.
- 2. Entsiklopediya fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta Pskovskoy oblasti (Encyclopedia of Physical Culture and Sport of Pskov region) / Chief ed. R.M. Gorodnichev, Dr.Biol., professor; deputy chief ed. – G.T. Trofimova, Ph.D., professor. – Velikie Luki, 2007. – 376 P.: il.
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