During the IU Alumni Reception, held on December 7, 2018 at the ASEEES Annual Convention in Boston, Paul Richardson was presented with the REEI Distinguished Alumnus Award, an honor that celebrates alumni of the Institute who have made exceptional contributions to academia, public service, education, outreach, and other fields by drawing on their expertise in the Russian and East European region. Former recipients include Alexander Rabinowitch, Charles Gati, Gale Stokes, Helena Goscilo, Howard I Aronson, William Hopkins, Donald Raleigh, Stephen F Cohen, and Victor Jackovich.
In the formal presentation, REEI Director Sarah Phillips noted that the award recognizes Richardson’s achievements in providing English readers with nuanced, multifaceted, and engaging perspectives on Russian life; his example as an IU Russian and East European Institute alumnus who has drawn upon his training in Russian area studies to pursue a stimulating and successful career in the business and publishing worlds; and his exceptional contributions to educational and cultural diplomacy.
A writer, translator, editor, and publisher, Richardson received an M.A. in Political Science at Indiana in 1986 and a Russian Area Studies Certificate in 1988. He was co-founder with David F. Kelley of the Russian Information Services, which in 1993 began to publish Russian Life, a bi-monthly non-ideological successor to the journal Soviet Life. Devoted to coverage of the world's largest country, Russian Life encompasses articles on culture, history, travel, and society for a broad audience by a host of Russian, American, and other contributors from academia, journalism, and other walks of life. In 2008 and 2009, Richardson moved RIS in new directions by launching a new quarterly journal, Chtenia: Readings from Russia, and expanding its portfolio of publications to include fiction in book format. The first title, Life Stories, contained original works of fiction by 19 of Russia's leading writers, with all proceeds going to benefit Russian hospice care. RIS has continued to publish books that provide readers with translations of high-quality contemporary and classic Russian fiction and non-fiction, as well as works on Russia by non-Russian authors. In the fall of 2015, Richardson and Russian journalist Mikhail Mordasov traveled 6,000 kilometers on a “Spine of Russia” project that resulted in two multi-media RIS publications offering vivid portraits of modern Russian life. In 2017, RIS launched another project, "Resilience," or "The Children of 1917," for which Richardson and Mordasov were joined by Nadezhda Grebennikova. The three collaborators travelled throughout Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Finland to interview centenarians born in 1917. The resulting book, Resilience, was published in early 2018, shortly after release of the identically-titled 25-minute documentary film, which debuted on November 7, 2017 and was screened at the ASEEES Annual Convention in Boston on December 6, 2018 with introduction and commentary provided by Richardson.