Meg Elwood // Feb. 18, 2017
Hills in Ireland
STATESBORO - The form of funding for the Center of Irish Research and Teaching has not changed since it’s creation in 1995. The center practices unit-level entrepreneurialism , meaning the center relies on grants and philanthropic donations in order to function since they do not receive a direct budget from the university.
The center’s creation was originally an idea brought to the university by Dr. Frederick Sanders. While this is not an uncommon move for faculty, it affected the center’s long-term plan for funding, which is now managed by Dr. Howard Keeley, the current director of Irish Studies.
A department is a specific area of study which houses centers and studies.
Example: Communication Arts Department houses Journalism, Film Production, and PR.
An area of study that provides interdisciplinary research in a given area involving faculty and students from a variety of internal administrative structures.
Example: Center for Irish Studies
A specific academic topic one can learn. This is the foundation of centers and departments.
Example: Woman & Gender
“The message to them was go ahead, I am supportive of this in principle, I think it’s a good idea, but I cannot appropriate funds for it or give you a budget right out of the gate,” Keeley said.
The difference between an academic created by the university and an academic created to further expand the education of students is how it is deemed necessary, and therefore is how the area receives funds.
Academics like math and sciences are deemed as a necessary component of a degree by the university, which means every student must pass these classes in order to receive a diploma.
These academic departments receive direct funding from the university, while small academic centers like Irish Studies function from donation funds like the University Foundation Inc. a nonprofit organization to help meet the needs of the university.
According to Christine Ludowise, the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, otherwise known as CLASS, technically, the center does have some form of university funded budget through the department’s E&G fund.
E&G stands for “Educational and General” funding, and comes from the state of Georgia taxpayer money. These funds are given to the university as an institutional budget, which are passed to the dean’s of collegesto further divide between centers and areas of study.
Irish Studies is housed within CLASS. When the Deans of CLASS divide the funds, some are given directly to centers and areas of study, like Women and Gender Studies or Africana Studies. These E&G funds appear in the university budget, but the Irish Studies center showed nothing, just zeros since it first appeared in the 2015 budget.
"So it doesn't come directly from the university, it's allocated to the college and the college allocates to Irish Studies, so it's always going to be zero on the university spreadsheet," Ludowise said.
This is because the E&G funds are given to the center indirectly.
They are used to provide essential tools like classrooms, desks, computers and an office for the director. They are not used for external outreach, such as study abroad trips, research trips overseas, guest speakers or scholarships. These types of events create the center’s foundation, and money is necessary for each of them to take place.
"So when we talk about budgets we're sort of talking about E&G money which can only be used for instructional kinds of things, which is very limited and then budget that can be used for, which is usually foundation funds of donated money, that is used for a variety of other purposes," Ludowise said.
After four years of involvement with the center, Sarah Ryniker, a political science graduate student, believes an actual budget from the university should be necessary since their research is expanding overseas, bringing the university international recognition.
"It doesn't matter how much it should cost when the contributions we're making are so great in comparison to what we're doing. There's people that are involved on both sides of the Atlantic who are invested, really really invested in this, in Irish Studies here at Georgia Southern. It's becoming this grand project, so we're bringing international recognition to the school and I think that is a need that is being completely underserved," Ryniker said.
Ryniker is one of a handful of students who became passionately involved with the study, but never declared it as a minor
Irish Studies is an interdisciplinary minor, which means it contains a variety of classes that stem from the area of study.
According to Christina Curley, the writing and linguistics academic student advisor, these classes are readily available for students of all majors or knowledge levels to take, especially as an extracurricular.
The numbers of students who have declared the minor is small, ranging from six to 12 students a year.
While enrolment is not the defining indicator as to if an academic receives a budget, the amount of involved students, success of funding through donations and overall complexity of the center makes it dismissable when it comes to changing the form of funding.
According to the deans of CLASS, Keeley’s system to collect funds has done quite well, but the work he put’s in to get there is no simple task.
"I would say that in our various accounts we would have, getting up towards $90,000, so, now of course those are endowed money, so you can't touch the principal, but it does give you a bit of operational funds, so it's not that we have no money to work with, you know, there's some support there in getting that money in the door," Keeley said.
While having a real budget could ease that part of the job, it isn't necessary. Keeley does however have concerns that it could turn away future successors.
The center’s funding system is not broken, but it could be improved.
"You know, Irish Studies is not just one thing, it's a range of different activities and I think there are funding conversations that are different around each activity," Keeley said.
A revisitation to how the center’s funds are collected and created could be beneficial. The merge between GS and Armstrong Atlantic State University brings promise to the future of the center in terms of expansion and revisitation.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
GS Students Study Abroad
Irish Studies Budget
As seen in the University Budget. The data that sparked the story idea.
Africana Studies Budget
An example of an area of study that is given a direct budget from the university.
Not only a chart describing the chain of command, but designating the flow of funds. *NOTE: original funds begin with USG.
CLASS E&G Funds
The avalible E&G funds for the Deans of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Irish Studies Funds
The available areas to donate to the center. Donations are endowed or restricted.
Definitions of Funds
University Advancement's definitions of donation types.
Univ. Foundation Inc.
Cover page describing the differences between Endowed and Restricted funds.
Univ. Foundation Inc. Financial
Fiscal Year 2016 breakdown financial statement.
Music by Tyler Roqumore // Photos courtesy of Sarah Ryniker