As events continue to unfold following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region, a professor at Missouri Southern State University is working to solve logistical issues that are blocking the implementation of a partnership that has been in the works for more than a year.

A group of about 13 students from the Odesa National Maritime University in Ukraine were expected to arrive at Missouri Southern in August for the start of the fall semester.

“They’re a maritime university,” said Dr. Chris Moos, associate professor of international business. “They train people to work on ships in ports, logistics, transportation, mechanical engineering and even have a maritime legal department. These students are very good in terms of engineering. What they lack and are trying to improve is the business management side of those activities.

Students coming to Missouri Southern from ONMU will learn the management side of working in ports.

Students coming to Missouri Southern from ONMU will learn the management side of working in ports.

“You can go in to run a port and be very good at setting up conveyers and loading and unloading systems, but not know how to manage people. It’s not a skill that you can’t learn. But it’s easier if you have some training and education behind it.”

The partnership with Missouri Southern will allow students at ONMU to take four courses at their own university (with learning goals and syllabi provided by MSSU), and then travel to Joplin to spend a semester taking the final four classes. They will then obtain a specialist in management certificate and return home for their thesis project and complete their master’s degree.

Moos and Dr. John Groesbeck, dean of the Robert W. Plaster School of Business Administration, were scheduled to travel to Ukraine two weeks ago to meet with students, drop off textbooks and administer English tests as they finalized the terms of the agreement. That trip, however, didn’t happen.

“Right now, there are several things that have to happen that we’re struggling with,” said Moos. “Shipping the textbooks there is kind of a non-starter, because it will cost 10 times their value to get them through customs … if they even get through customs. We have a lead on an American professor there who has retired and has an (English as a Second Language) certification. Hopefully, we can use him.”

Another issue is the country’s exchange rate, which has risen 25 percent in the last month.

Moos said the international crisis has been something of a double-edged sword in terms of the partnership between the schools.

“It’s increased interest on the part of the students, but it has also made it financially more prohibitive for them,” he said.

Moos has continued to stay in touch with ONMU – including via Skype sessions – to work through the challenges that have arisen and get everything in place.

“I hope that we can still pull it off,” he said.