Estonian Head of State to Visit USF

TAMPA, Fla. (April 7, 2008) – Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves will visit faculty and students at the University of South Florida’s College of Business in Tampa April 21, and deliver remarks at 1:45 p.m. about the economic challenges facing a small nation in a global economic market.  Recognized worldwide for being on the cutting edge of technology, and often referred to as a nation where the internet and global commerce go hand-in-hand, Estonia is the first country to conduct all government transactions with the public via the internet.

Following an unsuccessful “cyber attack” on Estonia’s internet network last spring, acts which many attribute to Russia, President Ilves recently called on the European Union to make cyber attacks, such as freezing public and private web sites for political purposes, a criminal offense.

Estonia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since joined NATO (2003) and the European Union (2005).  The nation, which lies along the Baltic Sea, has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years.

President Ilves began his term as president in October 2006. A former diplomat and journalist, President Ilves grew up in the United States.  A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, Ilves gave up his U.S. citizenship to become Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States in 1993.  He served as Estonia’s Foreign Minister twice before becoming a member of the European Parliament.  The Economist characterized Ilves as a “star in the making” in 2007.

President Ilves’ visit to the university was prompted by former U.S. Foreign Service officer Walter Andrusyszyn, an adjunct instructor at the USF College of Business.  Andrusyszyn, whose 23-year public service career included a stint as director for Northern and Eastern European Affairs in the National Security Council, seized the opportunity to deepen students’ understanding of global economies and international business. 

“Estonia’s choice to embrace technology has bolstered its economy,” said USF College of Business Dean Robert Forsythe.  “President Ilves’ visit provides an extraordinary opportunity for both USF and the Tampa community to learn about a successful transition economy and about the challenges facing a former member state of the Soviet Union,” he said.

The University of South Florida’s College of Business is accredited by the AACSB and offers six master’s degree programs, including a part-time, full-time, and weekend Executive MBA program.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  It is one of Florida's top three research universities.  USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialty and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine.  The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.  USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.