In what will go down as an historic signing, the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts hired Professor Andrej Bulgakov to a five year, $52 million contract Friday to become the head of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department.
The landmark signing comes after a tumultuous three year span under Professor Mikhail Krylov in which the department suffered a significant decline in performance and a noticeable drop in lecture attendance. After the dismissal of Krylov at the end of the Fall semester, the University underwent a month long search for a new head of the storied department.
Bulgakov, who university sources said was at the top of their hiring list, did not become a realistic possibility until this past week, when he agreed to visit Ann Arbor to meet with school officials, Bulgakov told reporters. “It was a very big decision, and one that comes with a lot of pressure, so naturally I wanted to confer with my family before I reached a conclusion.” Professor Bulgakov, who attended the University himself decades ago, says he abides by the department’s motto, “Those who stay will be fluent.”
“I am very ready to get in and get started. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m ready to get this program headed in the right direction,” he said.
University President Mark Schlissel commented on the hiring Friday, and although he was wary about the size of the contract, he conceded that this signing was a positive move. “While I admit that some of the money that is going into his contract could be allocated to fund other departments,” he said, “I understand the importance of a strong for Slavic Language Department university morale and revenue generation.”
He added frankly, “Look, facts are facts. We need students to come to Michigan, and we can’t do that without a strong Slavic Language Department.”
While the University has had a strong Germanic Languages and Literatures program in recent years, the revenue generated there is insubstantial compared to the Slavic department, which is expected to bolster student enrollment by 63% in the upcoming year.
Professor Bulgakov arrived in Ann Arbor late Sunday morning to much fanfare and excitement. Junior Becca Laing was among many ecstatic fans awaiting Bulgakov’s arrival at the airport. “It’s just so exciting to see the University finally make a good hire,” she said. “My entire time at school the department sucked, and it’s just so refreshing knowing that I’ll finally be able to enjoy my weekends studying Czech consonant phonemes the way it should be.” Ushankas, Professor Bulgakov’s signature form of fur cap, will be given away at the next basketball game.
Originally published January 2015