The Yaro Skalnik Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center Endowment Fund was established in 2022 through a generous gift by Professor Carol Leff (Emerita, Department of Political Science), in honor of her father.  It provides small research grants to undergraduate and graduate students, seeking to develop or present their original research in the field of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  It also builds upon a separate prize fund, previously established by Professor Leff, to award annual graduate and undergraduate prizes for the best student essays in the field.

Yaro James Skalnik (1918-1995) was born in Cleveland, OH, the son of Vaclav (James) Skalnik and Maria Cerveny.  Born in what is now the Czech Republic, Yaro’s parents emigrated to the United States in 1907.  Yaro Skalnik lived in Cleveland until World War II, when he enlisted in the US Army.  (His future wife, Alice Lucille Veazie, also served in the armed forces, becoming a 1st Lieutenant in the WAC.)  After the war, the Skalniks lived in Falls Church, VA, and Yaro worked for the Department of Defense until his retirement.  


The Skalnik Scholarship Grants

Each year, as outlined below, REEEC invites student applications for Skalnik Scholarship Grants.  

Each fall, we will award two Conference Grants of $500, meant to help students present the results of their research at professional conferences and public events.  In the spring, we will award one short-term Summer Grant of $750, meant to support student research or participation in educational or training programs.  Undergraduate as well as graduate students are eligible and encouraged to apply for these Skalnik Scholarship Grants.

Fall Deadline for Conference Grants: September 18, 2023

Spring Deadline for Summer Grant: April 24, 2024

Submission Guidelines:

For both grants, students should submit a short cover letter (1-2 page) describing their research, educational, or conference plans, and why they are seeking Skalnik Scholarship Grant support.  Applicants should also include with this attachment: 1) a short budget, explaining how they will use the grant; 2) any supporting materials documenting their plans (such as correspondence about a summer program or conference, or any research prospectus or proposal they have developed for their project).

Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled as students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Preference will be given to applicants who have not previously won a Skalnik Scholarship Grant.

Submit Application Materials by E-mail to: John Randolph (Director, REEEC), at  Please place “Skalnik Scholarship” in the subject heading.


The Skalnik Essay Prizes

Each Spring, REEEC invites submissions for the Yaro Skalnik Prize for the best undergraduate and graduate essays in Russian, East European, or Eurasian Studies at Illinois. Essays from all disciplines are eligible so long as they concern a relevant region. Each winner will receive a certificate and a cash prize.

Graduate Student Award: $250

Undergraduate Student Award: $150

Submission Deadline: April 24, 2023

Submission Guidelines

  • Students should submit a research paper written during the spring, summer, or fall semesters of 2022.
  • Length: minimum of 10 pages for undergraduates; 15 pages for graduates.
  • Cover page with: name, UIN, degree program and major, course, and instructor.
  • Papers can be nominated by a faculty member or submitted directly by a student.
  • Dissertation and thesis chapters are not eligible.

Submit Application Materials by E-mail to: John Randolph (Director, REEEC), at  Please place “Skalnik Prize” in the subject heading.