Connections Formed During U.S. Department Of State Program Keep LSI Connected To Ukraine

June 24, 2024

"Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Milligan pose for a group photo on a visit to Ukraine in 2018."

Tallahassee, Fla. – For ten years, Florida State University's Learning Systems Institute (LSI) has administered the U.S. Department of State's Community College Administrator Program (CCAP). In partnership with Santa Fe College, 15 CCAPs have been held for 15 countries. Two of those groups were community college administrators from Ukraine. 

Dr. Jeffrey Milligan, the former director of LSI, and Dr. Vilma Fuentes, the former Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Fe College and current program director of the FSU Ukraine Task Force (UTF), worked with both Ukrainian groups. They have visited Ukraine numerous times while working with the CCAP and other U.S. Department of State-funded projects.

During her last visit to Kyiv in the summer of 2019, Dr. Fuentes was introduced to Ukrainian professor Dr. Andrii Paziuk. While participating in a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at American University Washington College of Law, Dr. Paziuk began developing an expertise in cybersecurity law and thinking about the need to establish cybersecurity programs in vocational schools in Ukraine.

"The U.S. Department of State told me they have a good program for community colleges, so they introduced me to Vilma," recalls Dr. Paziuk. "Vilma assisted me in getting a representative from a U.S. college in Jacksonville to share their experience on how cybersecurity is studied in U.S. colleges."

Paziuk has gone from developing professional standards for cybersecurity curriculum to being one of the leaders in the field. Since 2023, he has been a non-residential research fellow at Charles Sturt University's Artificial Intelligence and Cyberfutures Institute in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Paziuk has helped the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) develop a Personal Data Protection Law (2010), Cybersecurity Law (2017), and Online Safety for Children Law (2021) and he currently advises the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the National Security and Defense Council.

From 2020 to 2022, Dr. Paziuk was a senior cybersecurity policy advisor for the USAID-funded Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure in Ukraine. Since December 2023, he has supported the World Bank-funded Digital Resilience Strategy for the Government of Ukraine. His assignments include researching cybersecurity, privacy, and digital resilience policies; identifying regulatory gaps; and providing recommendations.

Paziuk's cybersecurity and cyber diplomacy work led the U.S. Department of State to invite him to attend the 2024 NICE conference in Dallas. NICE is a National Institute of Standards and Technology program in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The conference is focused on exploring ways of developing a skilled cybersecurity workforce ready to meet the challenges of the future.

When Dr. Fuentes learned that her colleague from Ukraine was going to be in the U.S., she took the opportunity to extend an invitation on behalf of the UTF for him to visit Florida State.

"When Dr. Paziuk shared with me he was coming to the United States, I leveraged this unique opportunity to invite him to FSU," said Dr. Fuentes. "It was a good opportunity to explore how we could continue to collaborate among individual academics and our respective universities."

Paziuk recently completed a six-day visit to FSU, where he met with deans, professors, scientists and executive directors of different departments, institutes and centers. When he returns to Kyiv, he will bring home numerous collaborations established on his visit.

"It was great and I think we will develop this program further," said Dr. Paziuk. "What I plan to do is discuss with the leadership of my university (National Aviation University in Kyiv) to arrange a conference. Possibly a virtual campus, let's say. It would give Ukrainian students opportunities to access information, tools and learning materials."

For Dr. Fuentes, this is the impact she hoped for when she left Santa Fe College after 20 years to come to FSU, lead the UTF and discover ways to help the people of Ukraine.

"It's unique and exceptional to have a major U.S. research university care this much about Ukraine and specifically about engaging Ukrainian universities, academics and scientists," Dr. Fuentes said. "I think we have a unique opportunity to leverage some of the major facilities that FSU has and to extend a warm hand of friendship to academics and scientists in Ukraine who, at this point, just need to know that somebody cares."

For 55 years, LSI has delivered systems that measurably improve the learning and performance of organizations and individuals in Florida and globally. Our experts' advanced research provides state-of-the-art methods and a clear path for implementation. To learn more about the UTF or LSI, please visit for information.

"USA flag, US Department of State, Florida State University seal, Santa Fe College seal"