Kathleen Parth is a professor of Russian and the director of Russian studies at UR. A frequent world traveler, she has made many trips overseas to Russia.

What made you go into Russian studies as a field?
Growing up during the Cold War and being in school when Sputnik went up. Suddenly, everything about my education changed because America was reacting to what the Soviet Union had done. I thought, ‘What is this country that is having such an impact on our education?”

I started taking Russian in college and went to Russia as a junior for two months, and after that, I was just hooked. Seeing it, it is a country where everything seems larger than you are. It seemed very worthwhile studying.

How many languages do you speak?
I can speak about three, but I can read about eight. I am currently adding Italian. It’s really true that if you know any of the local language the trip to a country is totally different. You get much more out of it. I like to at least be able to read the local language.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn since I am going to teach a course on him in the spring. He lived through the 20th century and he experienced everything that Russia went through.

Putin versus Obama in a fight. Who would win?
Obam is smarter. Putin is meaner. I don’t know what kind of tactician Obama is yet, but they both have self control. It’s interesting when people with great restraint get into a fight. Putin has been trained in a rougher environment, and he knows martial arts so I think that alone gives him an advantage.

But I think that Obama is a match for Russian leaders. If it comes to meetings I think that it will be a draw for a while and that’s a good thing. That is where you get compromise.

Clark is a member of the class of 2012.

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