Recent changes to the Schuster Arts fund have caused some concern for how some art programs will be funded on campus, especially the Gannon Writing Awards Program.
This program typically takes place in the spring semester and gives students opportunities to win prizes and awards for their writing.
The night features a high school poetry contest, undergraduate and graduate poetry contests, journalism awards and Braeger awards for research writing, all of which span across all disciplines of the university.
The night also features the release of Totem, Gannon’s award- winning, student-produced literary arts magazine.
According to Berwyn Moore, a long-time professor and head of the event until the spring of 2018, the English department would have to apply for grants to fund the multidisciplinary program, which would help give support so that the event could feature distinguished poets and speakers.
However, beginning in 2011, former Dean of the College of Humanities English and Social Sciences (CHESS) John Young and the Schuster Art Committee announced that the annual grant would become a permanent source of funding for the program moving forward and the English department would no longer need to apply for the grant annually.
This year, changes to the art fund have some concerned for the Writing Awards, as this grant from the Schuster Art Fund is no longer available for the program.
According to Linda Fleming, Ph.D., dean of CHESS, the program for this year will be funded.
“There has not been a cut in funding for the Gannon Writing Awards,” Fleming said. “The funding stream has changed this year but has not been cut.
“It had always been funded through a collaboration of groups. Last year we created a budget line specifically for the Writing Awards, and money from the Vice President of Academic Affairs, dean and English department were moved into that budget line.
“The awards night is fully funded but not using Schuster endowment funds any longer.”
English department chair Laura Rutland, Ph.D., echoed the same message.
“The English department is very committed to continuing the Gannon Writing Awards,” Rutland said.
“We have extended an invitation to a guest poet for this year.”
The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, a member of the Schuster Arts Committee, said that it’s not only this program that has taken a hit, but other programs supported by the fund are as well.
The internal grants of the Schuster Art Fund have been restructured to support vital personnel in arts programs and left significantly less funds available for providing funding support to these campus programs.
Concern, however, lies in the future funding of the program.
Moore said that she hopes that as a liberal arts university, Gannon is still able to see the value of such programs and hopes that it continues to be fully funded, as it has been in the past.
Clerkin suggests getting creative in how programs are funded and suggests turning to alumni to help fund some of the programs.
“It’s time to start looking at new funding options,” Clerkin said.
“We need to reach out to those who had good experiences in arts programs and see if some of them would be willing to support programs in the future.”