Poltava National V.G. Korolenko Pedagogical University (PNPU) is one of the oldest universities in Ukraine and is practically synonymous with watershed events in the history of Ukrainian national science and education. Its history goes back to the Poltava Teachers Institute, founded in 1914, and the Historical-Philological Department of Kharkiv University in Poltava, established in 1918, which were the forerunners of the higher learning establishment we know today. In 1921, the Institute and Department were united to form the Higher Institute of Community Education, which consisted of the Philology-History and the Math-Science divisions. In 1930, the institution was reorganized into the Institute of Social Education and had two departments, pre-school and school, until, in 1933, it became the Poltava Pedagogical Institute, which consisted of four departments with a four-year course of study. In 1936, it became the Poltava Teachers Institute and had a Language-Literature and a Physics-Math department. Since December 1949 the Institute has borne the name of Russian writer Vladimir Galaktionovich Korolenko. On December 9, 1999, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers re-established the Institute as Poltava State Pedagogical University, and in 2009, the university received national status.
The University is famous for its educational traditions. Its intellectual climate was crafted by teaching staff including notable historians A.K. Volnin, D.I. Bagaley, N.V. Mirza-Avakyants, and P.M. Coynash, world renowned philosopher A.F. Losev, prominent linguists N.F. Sumtsov, V.A. Shchepot’ev, G.I. Mayfet, V.S. Ogolevets, and D.I. Ganich, the founder of Ukrainian national pedagogy G.G. Vashchenko, and the talented composer and conductor V.N. Verhovinets. Over the course of its more than 100-year history, PNPU has graduated over 50,000 qualified teachers including prominent educators A.S. Makarenko (1914-1917) and V.A. Sukhomlinsky (1936-1938), more than 30 writers, over 100 Merited veteran educators, hundreds of “Excellence in Education of Ukraine” awardees, as well as Heroes of Socialist Labour, Heroes of the Soviet Union, government ministers, and academics of the highest level.
Due to the efforts of many generations of faculty, students, and staff, the University has become well known not only in Ukraine, but also outside its borders. The caliber of the institution is evidenced by its high ranking (e.g., “Golden Fortune” and “St. Sophia of Kyiv” ratings) in various categories over many years. In 2011, PNPU was ranked #22 for Ukrainian pedagogical and humanitarian institutions and universities of physical education.
Since independence, the University has undergone several structural changes. PNPU has successfully gone through a government accreditation process and today consists of 36 departments and 7 schools: History, Natural Sciences, Physics and Mathematics, Philology and Journalism, Technology and Design, Psychology, and Physical Education. We train students at the bachelor, specialist, and master’s level according to a double-specialization program. At the graduate and postgraduate level, we offer 10 fields of study including General Education and Educational History, Theory and Methods of Professional Education, Theory and Methods of Education, Educational Theory, Economic Theory and History of Economic Thought, Ukrainian History, Thermal and Molecular Physics, Social and Historical Philosophy, Russian Literature, and Ukrainian, and at the PhD level we offer 8 subjects including General Education and Educational History, Theory and Methods of Professional Education, Theory and Methods of Education, Theory of Education, Ukrainian History, World Literature, Russian Literature, and Ukrainian. The Academic Dissertation Council accepts theses in two fields, General Education and Educational History, and Theory and Methods of Professional Education.
At the start of Fall Semester 2012, the academic and teaching staff of PNPU numbers 418 teachers, including 23 Doctors of Science or Doctors of Letters, 23 Professors, 225 Candidates of Science (PhD), and 160 Associate Professors. The student body totalled 6,362: 3,823 full-time students and 2,539 part-time students.
Since 2009, the University has been headed by Rector Nikolai Stepanenko, Doctor of Philology (Doctor of Letters), Professor, Head of the Ukrainian Language Department, member of the Academy of Sciences of the Higher Education of Ukraine, “Excellence in Education of Ukraine” awardee, a member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, a member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine, and Merited Scientist of Ukraine. Dr. Stepanenko’s inspired work in the field of philology and education has been awarded the Oles’ Honchar State Literary Prize for his book Literary Space of Oles’ Honchar’s Diaries (the work also received second place in the “Life of the Famous” category of the national “Best Book of the Year” contest); the All-Ukrainian Prize named after Ivan Ogienko; the breastplate “Petro Mohyla” from the Ministry of Science and Education of Ukraine; a diploma from the Academy of Higher Education of Ukraine; and regional prizes named after Panas Mirny and Ivan Kotlyarevsky.
The teaching staff of the University includes 1 Acting Member and 1 Corresponding Member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine, 2 Merited Artists of Ukraine, 4 Merited Scientists of Ukraine, 4 Merited Educators of Ukraine, 2 Merited Workers of Culture of Ukraine, 1 Merited Artist of Ukraine, 1 Merited Master of Folk Art of Ukraine, 1 Merited Worker of Physical Culture and Sports, more than 30 “Excellence in Public Education” awardees, and 6 Masters of Sports.
In accordance with fulfilling the goals of the University Charter, PNPU has a well-developed infrastructure and provides a high standard of teacher training. Today the campus of PNPU includes 4 academic buildings, 4 dormitories housing 1,300 residents, a sports complex, botanical gardens, production workshops, and a health-care centre. The University Library totals 578 thousand volumes and is the largest book collection in Poltava Oblast. It includes 5 subscriptions, 300 seats of reading space in 4 rooms, a department of rare books, a website, and an online catalogue. For student convenience, there are also rooms for individual work in the dorms.
PNPU has a Museum of Natural History, an Archaeological Museum, as well as rooms named in memory of the people whose fates are linked to Poltava: the writer V.G. Korolenko; teachers A.S. Makarenko and V.A. Sukhomlinsky; mathematician M.V. Ostrogradsky; inventor and one of the pioneers of rocketry and space flight theory Y.V. Kondratyuk (aka A.I. Shargey); and the singer R.A.Kirichenko. The longest towel made of homespun cloth (Ukr. rushnyk) in the world was made in 2012 by students of the University and is kept in the Museum of Ukrainian Embroidery at the Faculty of Technology and Design (the work is mentioned in the Book of Records of Ukraine).
PNPU maintains professional relationships with educational institutions, international organizations, scientists, and academics in all places where people live in the world: Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and Australia. The University’s international cooperation consists of participation in joint scientific and educational projects, organization of conferences, seminars, workshops, academic trainings, exchange of experts and students, receipt of fellowships and grants, and individual academic contacts of university professors. 27 official cooperation agreements are in place between PNPU and foreign universities or organizations in Belarus, Canada, Germany, Kazakhstan, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
PNPU also offers many extracurricular activities as well, and its student groups, often nominated to international and national competitions, include “Grace” Dance Ensemble (winner of international, European and Ukrainian championships); “Kalina” Ukrainian Folk Choir, which has gone on tours to many countries including the Russian Federation, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, and more; “Living Water” Folk Ensemble, “Spring” Folk Dance Group; the Chamber Choir named after P. Limansky; and other vocal groups including “1000 Years of Music” and “Thyme.” Each year the university puts on concerts and festivals including the variety show “Student Spring,” in which around 20 groups and 30 solo performers take part, contests for freshmen “Hey, we’re looking for talent,” and many more.
About 60 Masters of Sports of Ukraine, 6 International Masters of Sports, and 1 Merited Master of Sports of Ukraine work or study at the University. Among PNPU alumni are many outstanding sportsmen: multiple winner of European and World Canoe Championships, 2007 world champion, bronze medallist of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the winner of the 2012 Olympic Games in London Y. Cheban; 2009 world champion in powerlifting I. Yavorskaya-Karpova; silver medallist at the Canoe Kayak Marathon World Championships in 2010 and 2012 E. Shemetilo; participants in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney S. Izmailov, track and field, and V. Senchenko, boxing; a participant of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing O. Shcherbak, track and field. A. Melashchenko played on the Ukraine national football (soccer) team from 2001-3; the current Ukraine national soccer team includes A. Pyatov (2004- ) and R. Bezus (2010- ). A. Pyatov along with A. Chizhov, both PNPU alumni, formed part of the team that won the UEFA Cup in 2008-9.
Every year there are university-wide competitions for the “Rector Prize” in volleyball, beach volleyball, mini-football/soccer, tennis, rhythmic gymnastics, orienteering, and more. The Faculty of Physical Education traditionally organizes the university-wide Health Day in the spring. At PNPU women’s volleyball, mini-football and field hockey teams as well as men’s soccer and handball teams take part in Ukrainian championships.
On the eve of the University’s centenary, teachers and students who are proud to call themselves “korolenkovtsy” recognize that it is they upon whom the future of the institution depends. In the words of Rector of Poltava V.G. Korolenko National Pedagogical University M.I. Stepanenko, we “go forward confidently because we inherited a glorious history, bringing wisdom and knowledge tempered by time and experience, for our path is illuminated by education and sanctified by the beating hearts of thousands of great people.”