February 24, 2022

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I write on a dark day as Russian forces are invading Ukraine and the world is determining how best to respond. My profound sympathies to those of our community who are Ukrainian citizens, who have family ties to Ukraine, and to all who find this hegemonic and anti-democratic act to be deeply disturbing. Like everyone else, I am seeking insight from those who have dedicated their careers to this topic, who are authorities on the region and its people, and who understand the complicated politics and economics at play, and the history that may be driving decisions. 

To that end, I have invited two experts to join me tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. to better understand what is happening and what we might expect in the coming days and weeks. All members of the Hobart and William Smith community are invited to join the webinar. Registration information can be found below.

  • John Sipher ’83, P’19 retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service. At the time of his retirement, he was a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, the leadership team that guides CIA activities globally. An expert on Russia, he served multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia and in high-threat environments. He served as a lead instructor in the CIA’s clandestine training school and is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Now a sought-after foreign political and intelligence expert, his articles have been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Politico, the Washington Post and Newsweek, among many others. He regularly appears on the PBS Newshour, CNN, MSNBC and BBC. He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment. He has a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University. At Hobart, he was the captain of the four-time national champion lacrosse team.
  • Professor of Political Science David Ost has written widely on Eastern European politics with a focus on political economy, democratization, capitalism and labor. His books include Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-PoliticsWorkers After Workers’ StatesThe Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe (2005); and the special 2015 issue of East European Politics and Societies titled “Class After Communism.” His articles have appeared in journals such as Politics and SocietyEastern European Politics and SocietyConstellationsEuropean Journal of Social TheoryComparative PoliticsTheory and SocietyPerspectives on PoliticsEuropean Journal of Industrial RelationsThe NationDissentTelos and Tikkun. He serves on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals in the U.S. and Poland. In 2005, former Polish President Lech Walesa presented Ost with a special medal issued for the 25th Anniversary of Solidarity.


Understanding the Russian and Ukrainian Crisis: A Conversation with John Sipher ’83, P’19 and Professor David Ost


Friday, Feb. 25, 2022
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

You can submit questions in advance on the registration form. You will also be able to post questions during the webinar using the chat function.

I look forward to the conversation and your questions.


Joyce P. Jacobsen President