Ryszard Schnepf, Poland's ambassador to the U.S., visiting IU Bloomington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Ryszard Schnepf, the Republic of Poland's ambassador to the United States, will visit Indiana University Bloomington and present a public talk Oct. 24, "Poland in Today's World."
For Schnepf, the visit is something of a homecoming. Prior to his diplomatic career, he was an assistant professor of history at Warsaw University and was a visiting professor at IU during the 1982-83 academic year.
His talk will begin at 4 p.m. in the University Club of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret will host a reception afterward. The free event also is sponsored by the IU Polish Studies Center in the School of Global and International Studies.
Schnepf was appointed as Poland's ambassador to the United States in September 2012 and formally presented his credentials to President Barack Obama in January. His extensive diplomatic career also includes ambassadorships in Costa Rica, Spain, Uruguay and Paraguay.
"Indiana University had close ties with Polish universities long before the end of the Cold War," Zaret said. "We have valued the relationships that have resulted. It is an honor to receive the ambassador of Poland on our campus, and I’m especially pleased that this visit will give us a chance to renew a long-standing friendship."
During his youth, Schnepf pursued an education and an academic career as a historian. He earned a Master of Arts degree in history from Warsaw University in 1974 and a doctorate in history from the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1979. His dissertation was on the political party history of Venezuela.
From 1978 to 1991, he was a professor of history in the Iberian Studies Department at Warsaw University, rising to vice chair of the department. During his visiting professorship at IU, he taught Latin American and Polish history.
In an interview earlier this year with IU's Polish Studies Program, Schnepf reflected fondly on his time spent at IU Bloomington.
"The most important thing, given the time that I was there -- this was during martial law in Poland -- was the sense of freedom. The way the professors spoke to me, the open discussions with students, and the library -- full of books about Poland that I had never known before," he said. "It was, in a way, the discovery of history, of another time."
In the late 1980s, Schnepf participated in the historic, pro-democracy opposition movement in Poland and was a founding member and director of the “Solidarity” forum at the Department of Iberian Studies. He wrote for several "second circulation" publications, which then were forbidden and written under a pen name.
Under the pseudonym of “Paweł Zamorski,” he wrote for a Polish weekly called The Weekly Echo published in Toronto, Canada.
After the fall of the pro-Russian communist government in 1989, Schnepf became further involved in politics and diplomacy, putting his knowledge of Latin America to good use by serving as ambassador of Poland to Uruguay and Paraguay from 1991 to 1996.
He returned to Warsaw and served as deputy director and chief of protocol in the office of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek from 1998 to 2000, preparing foreign visits.
In 2000-01, he held the rank of Minister Plenipotentiary as deputy chief of mission at Poland's embassy in Madrid, followed by an ambassadorship in Costa Rica from 2001 to 2005, with simultaneous accreditation in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize.
From 2005 to 2008, Schnepf served in a series of positions based in Warsaw, first, in 2005, as the Foreign Ministry's plenipotential representative for the organization of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Solidarność/Solidarity Labor Union movement that toppled the Cold War regime.
He served as secretary of state for foreign relations and security in the office of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz in 2005 and 2006, and he directed budget negotiations of the European Union for 2007 through 2013. From late 2006 to 2007, he was the Foreign Ministry’s plenipotentiary for global threats, and he served as undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from late 2007 to late 2008.
In December 2008, he returned to Madrid as ambassador until his current appointment as ambassador to the U.S.