NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The University of Oklahoma has received a $2 million gift, along with many items of significant historical value, from the estate of a Russian princess.
OU received $2 million from the estate of Princess Janet Romanoff, the widow of His Highness Prince Nikita Romanoff.
The gift will create the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences on the OU campus.
Officials say the Romanoff Center will be the only academic entity named after the Romanoffs in the United States.
The center will focus on the interdisciplinary study of the Russian Federation and its historical precursors.
“This remarkable gift is a treasure in many ways,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “The establishment of the Romanoff Center at OU will elevate our focus on a region that has long been of paramount importance in global affairs, particularly in today’s geopolitical climate. We are deeply honored to be included in Princess Janet Romanoff’s estate, and we are humbled to be entrusted to safeguard and curate her family’s historical artifacts. These valuables – as well as the thought leadership we will see from the Romanoff Center – will enrich our understanding and appreciation of historical and present-day Russia for years to come.”
Princess Janet Romanoff was the daughter of Emanual Schonwald, an OU graduate who led a successful career in the oil industry. She was born in Oklahoma City and died in 2017 in Cairo, Egypt at the age of 84.
She earned a doctorate from Stanford University, which is where she met Prince Nikita Romanoff, a great-nephew of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II. They had a son, Prince Theodore, who died in 2007, leaving no heirs.
In addition to the center and endowed professorship, the gift will also establish the Theodore Romanoff Memorial Fund in Russian Studies, which will support academic scholarship and public programming, as well as create a synergy around OU’s current collection of Russian-related materials.
“The goal of the David L. Boren College of International Studies is to promote ‘global fluency,’ which we define as enriching the ways we can interpret the world to foster better understanding and more effective action in it,” said Scott A. Fritzen, dean of the David L. Boren College of International Studies. “This gift greatly expands our ability to teach and conduct research on one of the most important areas of the world today, one certainly in great need of productive interpretation. We look forward to the many ways the Romanoff Center will foster collaborations among scholars and students of Russia at OU and beyond.”