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Speeches and Interviews

Road to Freedom Conference NaUKMA

Ambassador Tefft gives the keynote address during the “Roads to Freedom” conference at National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Ambassador Tefft gives the keynote address during the “Roads to Freedom” conference at National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

October 7, 2011

Honorary President Vyacheslav Brykhovetsky… Rector Serhiy Kvit….honored guests…ladies and gentlemen.

Thomas Jefferson, perhaps America’s most versatile founding father, asked to have on his tombstone only three accomplishments:  his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, his responsibility for Virginia's Statute of Religious Freedom and his founding of the University of Virginia.  He did not mention his tenure as President of the United States or his service in government.  He wanted to be remembered for what he tought would be his most enduring contributions.   As founder of the University of Virginia -- the first public university in the United States -- Jefferson said:

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."  

As Thomas Jefferson well understood, no country can travel the “Road to Freedom” without educational institutions that are steeped in the values of freedom and that instill the habits of mind necessary for citizens of a democratic system. 

It is my great honor to be here today to congratulate Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on the twentieth anniversary of its re-establishment and to help open this conference.  It is clear that the fate of this university and the fate of a free and independent Ukraine are intertwined.      

Many of the people who are here today are the founding fathers of the modern day Kyiv Mohyla: Honorary President Vyacheslav Bryukhovetsky, President Serhiy Kvit, and so many of you gathered here.  You have created in these short years a place that attracts the best and the brightest and that is a role model of innovation and engagement for other universities.   The many friends you have gathered here for this conference attest to the international network that has been created by NaUKkMA through these years. 

Kyiv-Mohyla’s example shows that universities cannot be the impregnable citadels of learning of old – barricaded from the larger world.  They must be part of the nation’s conversation, leading the rest of society forward toward a democratic and modern society and economy.   That is not always an easy or comfortable role – we all know some of the pressures -- but it is a role that this university and its faculty and its students clearly embrace.   

The U.S. is proud to be one of the many friends of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.   And I am pleased that former U.S. Ambassador William Miller is also here today to bring his perspective to this event and to highlight the longstanding engagement which the U.S. Embassy has had with NaUKMA.

So, once again, congratulations on your twentieth anniversary and I wish you every success with this conference.