Mark Temnycky’s maternal and paternal grandparents moved to the United States from Ukraine in the early 1950s, just as McCarthyism and the Red Scare were taking root, leaving division, fear and mistrust in their wake. Looking back, some 70 years later, Temnycky, a member of the Le Moyne Class of 2015, knows that it could not have been a simple or easy transition for them. Still, they managed to incorporate the culture, language and traditions of their native home into their adopted one, lovingly sharing their heritage with their children and later their grandchildren. Today Temnycky has made a career of writing about Eastern Europe and its place in the world for venerable publications such as The New York Times and Forbes and for institutions like the Atlantic Council, the Wilson Center and the Center for European Policy Analysis. His work has attracted the attention of readers worldwide, including policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic, and the leadership of the Ukrainian World Congress, which recently named him to its inaugural list of 30 emerging leaders under the age of 30.
Temnycky’s understanding of Eastern Europe was formed when he was young. As an elementary school student, when most of his peers were spending their Saturday mornings watching cartoons in their pajamas, he was attending Ukrainian language classes near his home in Syracuse. While he protested to his parents at the time, he now knows the experience served him well. His interest in writing about Ukraine emerged when he was a student at Le Moyne and Euromaidan protests erupted across the country, leading to the tragic deaths of over 100 civil activists. The history major was haunted and inspired by these events, and wanted to tell the stories of Eastern Europeans. Throughout his time at Le Moyne, he distinguished himself as a researcher and writer, focusing his Departmental Honors Thesis on Ukrainian national identity. Professor Emeritus of History John Langdon ’67, Ph.D., who taught and mentored him during his time at the College, recalled that as an undergraduate, Temnycky possessed the initiative and drive of a graduate student.
“I’m not at all surprised that his career has developed so rapidly and so brilliantly,” Langdon said.
Following his graduation from Le Moyne, Temnycky earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. While at Maxwell, he wrote his first article for publication, a piece for Forbes on the significance and distinction of “Ukraine” vs “the Ukraine.” Five years later, he has written for numerous news outlets and think tanks, including a recent piece on President Joseph Biden’s White House summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He has also guest lectured on Eastern European affairs to several U.S. universities, and his work has been widely shared by organizations, institutions and the media.
“Mark is not only an accomplished writer and expert on Ukraine but also a very fine young man who brings credit to himself, to Le Moyne, and to all of us who have had the good fortune to know him and work with him,” reflected Professor of History Edward Judge, Ph.D., who, like Langdon, taught Temnycky and directed his honors thesis. “He is performing an immensely valuable service in keeping people informed about issues and events in Ukraine, a crucial and consequential nation that gets far too little attention in the West.”
Professor of Psychology Krystine Batcho, Ph.D., Professor of English Jennifer Gurley, Ph.D., and Professor of Economics Paul Blackley, Ph.D., also played an important role for Temnycky as he completed his Departmental Honors thesis, and he began to further pursue his regional and writing interests as he enrolled in Maxwell’s graduate program.
As for the future, Temnycky is thoughtfully moving from being a national specialist to a regional one, focusing not only on Ukraine but on Eastern Europe as a whole and its impact on U.S. and European foreign policy and national security. He is currently exploring the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tension in the Black Sea region, which includes Russia and Turkey, as well as Ukraine. He wants to use his work to inform the West about this underreported upon part of the world, and to shine a spotlight on why it matters to global peace and security. He also hopes that his publications, both for news outlets and think tanks, will help government officials, civil servants and policy makers develop sound, well-reasoned decision about the area. He credits his time at Le Moyne and Maxwell with helping to prepare him for this work.
“Le Moyne taught me how to be a better person, how to live as a better person and how to translate that into my work environment and experience,” he said. “It showed me that big victories are important, but so are the smaller ones, like shaping one person’s perspective or making one person smile. Through my writing, that is what I hope to do.”