AUBG would not have been where it is today without the ardent endeavors of its benefactors and supporters. The foresight of our advocates empowers us to serve society through academic excellence, changing lives and transforming the world around us to make it a better place for generations to come.
Sadly, some of the most passionate believers in AUBG and its values are no longer with us. Yet, they remain in our hearts and remind us of our purpose through a lifelong legacy of true will, dedication and affection for our community.
Sol Polansky was an ardent devotee and supporter of the cause of AUBG.
Ambassador Polansky played a key role in the University’s history as founding chairman and member of the Board of Directors of AUBG 1991-2000.
Sol Polansky joined the US Diplomatic Service in 1952. He served twice at the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia; and also in Poznan, Poland; and West Berlin, West Germany. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, East Berlin, East Germany 1976-79; Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Vienna, Austria 1979-83; State Department Representative on the US Delegation to the START negotiations 1983-85. In 1987, he was named Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, where he served until August 1990. He was named Executive Director of the Citizens Democracy Corps in 1991, and retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1993.
Sol Polansky graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950. He attended the Russian Institute at Columbia University 1950-52, and the National War College, Washington, DC, 1972-73.
Dimi and Yvonne Panitza
AUBG would not be what it is today without the support of Dimi and Yvonne Panitza. Firm believers in the values of the American University in Bulgaria, Yvonne and Dimi gave their wholehearted support to the institution since its very establishment.
Dimi was one of the first AUBG benefactors. He was an AUBG
trustee and the institution’s most vocal proponent until the very end. He founded a scholarship program for youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Together with her husband Dimi Panitza, Yvonne founded and inspired a number of initiatives advancing democratization, free press, and education in Bulgaria.
The Panitzas gifted the University library with its first major book collection in 1993 when they purchased the entire stock of a Farleigh Dickinson University library. Later, Dimi helped so that the AUBG library could move to a new building completed in 2008. In 2009, the library official became Panitza Library, in recognition of the Panitzas’ longstanding support.
Dimitry-Ivan “Dimi” Evstatiev Panitza was born on November 2, 1930 in Sofia in the family of distinguished Bulgarians. Dimi was raised to love his country and work for its well-being, a duty rendered all the more urgent by his premature exile at the age of 18, following the communist takeover of Bulgaria. He got to work immediately – first as a lowly clerk in a bank in Paris and a few years later as a trainee in the editorial department of the world’s largest-circulation magazine, Reader’s Digest.
Over the years, he worked his way to become the European Editor and later a Managing Editor until his retirement from the magazine in 1994. When the Berlin Wall came down, Dimi dashed off to his motherland – after 42 years in exile – and set about helping Bulgaria with its transition to democracy.
In 1991 Dimi and his wife established the Free and Democratic Bulgaria Foundation (FDBF) in Sofia, which has greatly helped make improvements in various spheres of Bulgarian society.
Dimi was the founder and honorary chairman of Junior Achievement-Bulgaria, which offers educational programs in economics and entrepreneurship to adolescents, as well as of Outward Bound-Bulgaria, which organizes a broad range of courses that empowers people to develop their potential by engaging in challenging experiences in unfamiliar outdoor settings.
His other initiatives included the Alliance for Children and Youth, which provides assistance to homeless, unemployed young adults; the Bulgarian School of Politics, whose graduates include members of parliament, regional governors, mayors, and young leaders with varied backgrounds, and which was founded to promote the development of a modern political and governmental culture based on pluralism, tolerance, and open dialogue; and the Institute for Studies of the Recent Past, created to promote research and fill the gap in modern Bulgarian history for the period between 1944 and 1990.
For his work, in December 2000 Dimi received Bulgaria’s highest civilian decoration, the order of Stara Planina, first class. He was also a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Order of the Legion of Honor and the recipient of the Council of Europe’s Pro Merito medal for his contributions to the democratic processes in Eastern Europe.
Yvonne was among the founding members of several institutions dedicated to the democratic values and advancement of Bulgaria, including Outward Bound – Bulgaria, Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza,” Junior Achievement – Bulgaria and Free and Democratic Bulgaria Foundation.