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Radzilowski Named New Director of Polish Institute of Culture & Research

Polish Institute of Culture & Research
March 30, 2022

Radzilowski Named New Director of Polish Institute of Culture & Research

The Polish Institute of Culture & Research (aka “The Polish Mission of Orchard Lake Schools”), one of the most prominent Polish organizations in the United States, announces the appointment of its new director, Dr. John Radzilowski. “We look forward to welcoming John as our new director, beginning June 1,” said Richard Walawender, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Polish Institute of Culture & Research. “Given his background, reputation and commitment to Polonia and the Orchard Lake Schools, he is the ideal person for the position to enhance the Polish Institute’s mission of promoting Polish culture, tradition, language, and history.”

Radzilowski was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved with his family to Minneapolis, Minnesota at an early age. His father, Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski, was a former president of St. Mary’s College on the campus of the Orchard Lake Schools and founded the Piast Institute, a national research and policy center for Polish and Polish-American affairs located in Hamtramck, Michigan. “My dad was a great storyteller, and I was always fascinated by the Polish and American history he shared,” added Radzilowski. “It fueled my curiosity and passion for history and writing, especially in my early career when I was a newspaper reporter and editor. It ultimately led me to becoming a historian as well.”

He also served as a Piast Institute fellow and a past president of the Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota. Among his many other career accomplishments, Radzilowski received his Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University in 1999. He is a historian, professor, and author of numerous books and articles on the history of Poland and of Polish Americans. Radzilowski is a professor of history at the University of Alaska Southeast where he has been since 2007. “I have taught European, U.S., and World History, Geography, and Art History,” he added. “Prior to this, I also taught at several other colleges and universities, and served as assistant project director at Center for Nations in Transition at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota where I helped design and administer USAID and State Department-sponsored training programs for business, economics, and political science faculty and NGO leaders in Ukraine and east central Europe.”

It is no coincidence that Radzilowski is joining the Polish Institute at the time of its grand reopening of the Galeria building, after months of renovation. “John is joining us at a time when there is a new direction here at the Polish Institute of Culture & Research,” said Walawender. “The Galeria building will be reopening on May 1, so that we can host our annual ‘Third of May Constitution’ commemoration, which honors Poland’s May 3 Constitution of 1791, and John will be delivering the keynote address for the occasion.” The event begins at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2022, in the renovated Galeria.

The Galeria will be the venue for exhibitions of Polish and Polish-American art and artifacts, as well as recitals, concerts, lectures, symposia, and other programs. In addition, the Polish Institute has invited other Polish cultural, language, and genealogy organizations to utilize the Galeria and other facilities on campus, which will include state-of-the-art presentation and conferencing capabilities.

Radzilowski is excited to develop the Institute’s academic research programs. “The large archival collection at the Polish Institute, which includes original letters signed by Polish kings several centuries ago, is an untapped resource for scholarly research. I feel fortunate to have a unique skill set, purely coincidental, having been president of a Polish-American organization, and having an extensive background in public history, including historical preservation, and working with archives, museums, and local historical societies. I look forward to working with experts in academia as well as the public in Polonia and beyond. Polish Americans helped build the United States, and we need to celebrate and teach this. I look forward to helping to rebuild the Institute into a true center for Polonia.”

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