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Busts of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin were destroyed in Vilnius last year. A statue of KGB founder Felix Dzherzhinsky was torn down in Moskow last month. And now, a little closer to home, one final relic of Russian history has fallen. Or at least changed departments. Veteran History professor Alexander Riasanovsky, who has taught Russian History at the University for almost 30 years, has transferred to the Slavic Languages Department, but will continue to offer his popular history courses to undergraduates. Riasanovsky, who joined the University's History and Slavic faculties in 1958, said former History Department Chairperson Richard Beeman asked him to continue teaching History 48 and 49, a two-semester survey of Russian history, because it is one of the best-known courses at the University. Beeman, who is now an associate dean in the College of Arts Sciences, said although Riasanovsky's salary will be now be paid by the Slavic Languages Department and he will vote in that department, he will retain a secondary appointment in the History Department and many of his courses will be cross-listed in both departments. Riasanovsky said he switched departments because he wanted to concentrate on Russian culture and literature and to teach more courses in Russian. He offers one section of his history course in Russian, and he said this experience prompted him to seek similar opportunities. "What sparked my desire is that I began teaching in Russian," he said. "It is only in recent times that the Russian-speaking contingent at Penn has increased. Penn is emphasizing using languages -- not just studying languages, but using them." Riasanovsky will develop a new survey course of Russian civilization and literature which Slavic Languages Chairperson Peter Steiner said will broaden the department's curriculum. "It will be the new flagship course in our department," Steiner said. According to Beeman, it is common for professors to change departments, and he estimated that one or two such changes occur each year. He added that the last move he remembered from the History Department occurred ten years ago.

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