KU News Release

May 17, 2011
Contact: Adrienne Landry, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, 785-864-4237

Student’s essay on Siberian regionalism wins 2011 Laird essay contest

LAWRENCE — Austin Charron, a master’s student in geography from Corvallis, Ore., has won the Roy D. and Betty Laird Essay Contest with his essay “The Sibiriak Movement and the Roots of Modern Siberian Regionalism.”

Charron spent a year in Ukraine on a Fulbright Fellowship before enrolling at KU for graduate study. As a KU student, he has received a number of Foreign Language and Area Study Fellowships to support his research. His master’s thesis is on “Ethnic and Regional Factors of Identity Among Crimea’s Russian Population.”

Charron received a bachelor’s degree cum laude at the University of Oregon, where he majored in geography and Russian studies. He is a graduate of Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, Ore.

The selection committee was impressed by Charron’s almost exclusive use of Russian sources for his essay and his perceptive analysis. Committee members described the essay as “immediately engaging,” “well-written and well-organized” and “a pleasure to read.”

The prize includes $750, a book budget of $75 and a certificate. Charron’s name will be placed on a plaque bearing the names of all previous winners of the competition, which is displayed outside the office for the Center for Russian and East European Studies in Bailey Hall.

The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies sponsors the annual essay contest, now in its 17th year. The contest is named after the late Roy D. Laird, a longtime member of the Russian and East European studies and political science faculties, and Betty Laird, whose support makes the prize possible.

The funds are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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