graphic for Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program

AU introduces Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program, offers safe haven to students from Ukraine

Published on Dec. 08, 2022

ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University has offered full scholarships to five high school graduates from Ukraine who were displaced or unable to enroll in higher education institutions in their home country due to the Russia-Ukraine war. The first four recipients of this inspiring new initiative—the Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program—will begin their undergraduate studies at Ashland in January 2023.

Launched in June 2022 by a small group of faculty and staff from AU and the Ashbrook Center, the Ukrainian Freedom Scholar initiative provides four years of financial assistance at about $40,000 per year to select students who had successfully passed college admission exams in Ukraine, demonstrated English language proficiency and met other enrollment criteria specified by AU. This funding includes scholarships offered by the Ashbrook Center, as well as AU merit scholarships and other sources.

Keith Ramsdell, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at AU, noted the overwhelming support for the initiative from AU’s leadership team, faculty, staff and students. “When the campus community first started hearing about this proposal there was a lot of excitement. We’re confident that enthusiasm will spread across the entire campus and the Ashland area to support these students,” he said.

Ashland’s Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program has been implemented in collaboration with colleagues from the Ukrainian Global University, a partnership of the world’s leading universities offering academic support to Ukrainians affected by the war.

“When I learned of the Ukrainian Global University’s call to academics from around the world, I felt I had to do something to help students from my native land,” said Olga Monacell, who grew up in Ukraine and today is an assistant professor of communication studies and director of AU’s graduate program in strategic communication and leadership. “I’m grateful to my colleagues from the Ashbrook Center and other offices here at Ashland who embraced this initiative. We are all impressed with the quality of students we selected and look forward to welcoming them on our campus.”

Following a series of interviews with candidates, four applicants were selected: Oleksandra Bibik from Kyiv, Dana Krukovska from Kakhovka Kherson Oblast (currently, a refugee in Lviv), Maksym Polianskyi from Odesa (refugee in Romania) and Dmytro Solomianiuk from Lviv. They each will begin pursuit of an AU degree in the spring semester and a fifth will be selected for the fall semester in 2023.

“I’m proud to say that Ashbrook and Ashland University are partnering to bring four excellent Ukrainian students to Ashland. These students have already faced such adversity in their lives, several losing their houses or even towns to the scourge of war. Hearing them tell their story made me deeply appreciative … and deeply committed to the cause of getting them an exemplary education,” added Rich Policz, who helped implement the Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program and serves as associate director of student programs at Ashbrook. “We are excited to have these young minds join the conversations in the Ashbrook Scholar Program and eager to see what this new birth of freedom can bring to their lives and their country when they return.”

Ashland’s office of advancement is hoping to raise additional funding to support this transformative program. For more information on the Ukrainian Freedom Scholar program, click here.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.

The Ashbrook Center (, an independent academic center located at Ashland University, was established and named in honor of the late Congressman John M. Ashbrook, who represented Ohio’s 17th Congressional district for 21 years. The Ashbrook Center offers educational programs across the country for students, teachers and citizens.