Irish focus in limbo


Joel Vanner and Cali Kees

Just weeks after Quinnipiac University announced they will be closing WQUN-AM on June 30, Quinnipiac will now not be marching in the 2019 New York St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The university has been participating in the parade for the past three decades as former Quinnipiac President John L. Lahey was a member of both the board of directors and the parade committee. This will be the first year that there will not be a Quinnipiac presence in sponsorship or foot traffic.

According to Irish Central, who according to their website is “The leading Irish digital media company in North America,” reported on Jan. 30 that they were told by several sources that there were also “Questions surrounding Quinnipiac’s future commitment to its Great Hunger Museum and Great Hunger Institute.”

The museum and institute were both established by Lahey.

Lahey was quoted by Irish Central saying:

“The Irish Great Hunger Museum has been an important part of Quinnipiac’s growing international status as an academic institution, and I would hope it remains open on campus. With 20 percent of the student body identifying as Irish and 62 percent as Catholic, it is an important reminder of the historical factors that have created this country. And at a time of growing controversies over immigration, it puts down a marker that Quinnipiac welcomes all at a time when that is not always the case in the halls of power.”

Q30 News reached out to the university directly for a statement about the museum and the parade.

Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, told Q30, “The university is in the midst of a rigorous and comprehensive strategic planning process around the critical priorities of student learning and institutional excellence. Given our many student-centric priorities, our hope is that Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum identifies diverse sources of support for its programs and initiatives, including philanthropy.”

The strategic plan first draft, released by President Olian Jan. 29 did not specifically mention Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum.

Bushnell continued to say that the university is redirecting its resources to “more immediate needs that serve students on the campus,” as reasoning for not participating in the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade

President Judy Olian sent out an email to the Quinnipiac community looking to provide some context regarding some “press” about Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum on Feb. 4,

She noted that the university is in the midst of its strategic plan process to determine where further investments and the reallocation of resources are needed.

In the email, Olian wrote, “The board of trustees and I established a goal of financial self-sufficiency for the museum by June 2020. Accordingly, the museum is seeking to raise philanthropic support as well as self-generated funds to continue operations.”

She said that both her and the Board of Trustees are committed to educating both the Quinnipiac community and the general public and there are lessons embodied in the museum that are a reflection of Quinnipiac’s values.

“These lessons are taught in Quinnipiac’s curriculum and centers in many forms, including through Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at the university, the Albert Schweitzer Institute, our religious affiliates, and the Lender Family Special Collection Room (An Gorta Mór) at the Arnold Bernhard Library, all of which are integral components of the Quinnipiac University learning and development ethos,” Olian wrote.

This story will be updated as Q30 News finds out more information.

This story was last updated on Feb. 4 at 11:19 P.M.