Doing Business with Russia

A look back at CBE’s International Program in Moscow

On the evening of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell - a significant event in world history that marked the fall of the Iron Curtain and reunification of Germany. That same evening, the College of Business and Economics (CBE) was hosting a welcome dinner for a group of Soviet Union managers enrolled in an intensive management training program in Hayward.  

A couple of years later, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union, marking the collapse of the USSR and establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The College of Business and Economics continued to partner with CIS through the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program. Students from former Soviet Union Republics, now independent CIS countries, were selected by the U.S. State Department for two-year MBA or MPA programs in business administration and economics. At one time Cal State East Bay was the largest Muskie campus on the West Coast.  

The College of Business and Economics also worked with the US Consulates in Russia to form affinity groups of 10-12 managers sent to CBE for 4-week programs in American business and culture, with field trips, homestays and one-week internships. Dedicated CBE faculty and staff worked tirelessly to coordinate this program including Marketing Professor Ricardo (Ric) Singson and his wife Meg. Groups included entrepreneurs from Vladivostok, judges from Ekaterinburg, timber managers from Vologda, and small business owners from Astrakhan. These programs ended after a change in the U.S. State Department funding priorities.

Vladimir Ozernoy, a CBE professor of Quantitative Methods and his childhood friend, Edward Goizman, founded the Moscow MBA program. After two quarters as a visiting lecturer at CBE, Goizman posed the question to Dean Tontz that if CBE could have a program in Concord, why couldn’t it have a program in Moscow?

Moscow MBA, The Institute of Business and Economics (IBE) was established at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), an economic think tank in Moscow. The program was initially directed by Vladimir Ozernoy and later by Gary Wishniewsky. It ran from 1993 to 2014 and graduated 1,250 students.

Our Moscow program, the longest-running and most prestigious of CBE’s overseas programs, was often ranked the number one MBA in Moscow. At one point had a total enrollment of over 200 Russian managers. Initially President Morishita, Provost James Houpis, Extension AVP Brian Cook, Dean Jagdish Agrawal, Interim AVP of Academic Programs and Graduate Studies Donna Wiley and MBA Director Gary Wishniewsky were supposed to attend the commencement for the last class in 2014, but cancelled after the Russian annexation of the Crimea and the separatist war in western Ukraine. Somewhat serendipitous, the program closed due to a lack of students and not for political reasons. 

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