The start of Ithaca College’s first full-semester study abroad program in Antigua will be delayed until Spring 2009.
Students and professors have been traveling to the tiny Caribbean island since 2004 for shorter mini-courses in subjects like photography, journalism and sports management. Rachel Cullenen, director of study abroad programs, said the full semester option was intended to be in place by 2007, but was hindered by a number of “surmountable” obstacles.
Cullenen said the program is being held up by a public transportation system that may not meet students’ needs, unfinished housing construction and a lack of native faculty members for the courses.
While there was initially talk of building a college facility on the island, Cullenen said any idea that the college might build a campus there was an exaggeration and false. In fact, she said, a local construction firm is building housing for Antigua’s medical school that Ithaca students will also be staying in.
But that rumor — untrue though it may have been — sparked scandal and confusion in Antigua, according to the island’s newspaper, the Antigua Sun.
On Aug. 15, the newspaper published an article that said “Antigua Labour Party Senator Osbert Frederick has demanded that the individuals involved in the alleged campaign to construct a campus of the Ithaca College in Antigua come clean with their plans, as it is his understanding that no such deal has been brokered with the college.”
Frederick said he received an e-mail from Ithaca College’s “president,” “Natalie Pringle,” explaining that the college would not be building a campus on the island.
The tension appears to have dissipated since the article was written.
The college’s program will run during the spring semester and will be based in St. John, Antigua’s capital. Students will take courses with an emphasis on Caribbean culture and will have the opportunity to intern at a business or organization on the island. An Ithaca College faculty member will accompany each group of students and teach a special course. Additional mini-courses will also be offered each semester.
Dianne Lynch, dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications, taught a journalism mini-course in Antigua in Spring 2005 to Ithaca students and Antiguan journalists. She applauded the creation of a full-semester program there.
“If the college is really committed to taking students down there, they should have a full-time presence,” she said. “I think students who spent a couple weeks there didn’t have an opportunity to engage in the culture like they would if they were there for a semester.”
Cullenen said all of the college’s mini-courses led to an extensive network of contacts on the island that lent itself well to the creation of a longer, more permanent program.
“The [contacts] brought out other possibilities,” she said. “A lot of people saw the potential for an interesting and unique program there, because there aren’t other [U.S.] programs being offered there.”
The college’s first courses on the island were offered by Janice Levy, associate professor of cinema, photography and media arts, who will continue to teach photojournalism courses there in the future, she said.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” she said. “We saw tremendous potential with what they were doing down there.”