Transylvania today announced the creation of the Earle and Cathy O’Donnell Endowment for Irish Studies, which will provide financial assistance for the university’s students studying in Ireland during a new summer abroad program.
The endowment is named after Earle O’Donnell, a graduate of Transy’s Class of 1971, and his wife Cathy. Earle O’Donnell is a retired attorney, having been recognized as one of the country’s leading lawyers in the energy field. Both he and Cathy recently returned to school in Ireland for advanced degrees, an experience that inspired them to support Transylvania’s new program.
“It’s an opportunity for an intense immersion in a program abroad with students learning about life and gaining knowledge in a broad village,” Earle O’Donnell said. “There are other programs out there … but this is a really well-thought-out idea in a country whose history is intertwined with the United States. I think it’s going to be an extraordinarily welcoming and enriching experience.”
In September, Transylvania President Seamus Carey announced the program, which is open to college students from Transy and other universities.
“We are honored to name our endowment for Irish studies after Earle and Cathy O’Donnell, whose commitment to Transylvania has made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many of our students,” President Carey said. “Their generous support has not only helped us bring the world to Transylvania through scholarships for international students, but is now helping us take our high-quality instruction and liberal arts philosophy out into the world.”
The Transylvania in Ireland program will bring students to the Burren College of Art in County Clare for three weeks of study in art and literature. Classes will be enhanced by course-related program travel, visits with regional professionals and interactive evenings with folklorists, musicians and community dancers. The inaugural program is May 31 to June 22, 2019.
“The experience of living in Ireland and living abroad is a real eye-opener,” said Cathy O’Donnell. She recently completed an advanced certificate through the master’s program in archival management at University College Dublin.
One early supporter of the Irish studies endowment is Barbara Oney Garvey, a classmate of Earle O’Donnell and retired college professor. She studied in Ireland while working on her master’s degree and says the opportunity for students to have this experience can be transformative.
“I do think what Transylvania has created here is rare,” Garvey said. “My faith is that if you give the right tools to young people, they are going to do better than we have done in the past.”
Earle O’Donnell added, “Schools do best when students take charge of their own learning, and part of that taking charge is meeting, understanding and sharing with students of different backgrounds.”
For additional information on the program, including academic course work and cost, visit https://www.transy.edu/ireland.