Round Table V: Community Outreach | Discussion

Andrew Hladyshevsky:

I think Pavlo raised it regarding the Sheptytsky Institute: unless you have clout, you will continue to be downtrodden by those who hold your money. The community has $54 million, according to Mr. Petryshyn, but you have little bang for your buck with the management of your money. That has to change.

Pavlo suggests some models, advocating with different universities, and that endowments start to be placed within the Shevchenko Foundation in perpetuity for particular programs in order to gain independence from universities, to be able to tell them, “If you do not like it, we will go somewhere else.” The fact of the matter is that CIUS cannot say right now to the University of Alberta, “We are leaving for the University of Toronto.” When Eastern Christian studies fell out of favour at St. Paul University, the Sheptytsky Institute eventually left with its money [funds at the Shevchenko Foundation], which gave it some power and authority to negotiate with the University of Toronto. So those models have to be considered.

The people in this room are beneficiaries of literally hundreds of millions of dollars of cash that has flowed to you, to a lot of you, to do what you have done. So for you to say that you are not part of the community, or that the community should not have a say in what you do, is quite frankly, for me, not in the cards. I think before you shuffle off this mortal coil, you should give back to your community in some way. I think Nadia would probably agree that we have put in processes for our organizations to last in perpetuity. So that is extremely important. Thirdly, your customers, your students, have to be convinced that even though what you may teach may not result in a particular career, somehow it is relevant in their lives, relevant enough for them to experiment with courses in Ukrainian education, relevant to talk to their kids about it and interest them.

Olga Kuplowska:

Where foundations are concerned, I think we do need some kind of loose networking to share information. Different foundations or organizations are informed at different levels, and we have all had our own experiences. We need to share some of those stories so that we may be better prepared to deal with whatever situations come up. Also, priority setting is needed without tying down; with each university, there are different priorities. We need a better sense of existing gaps and needs as perceived by academics and community members alike in order to deal effectively with donors and applications. So I am looking forward to networking and increased communications from all parties.

Roman Petryshyn:

Each university is in competition with every other, and Ukrainian programs at different universities are in competition. I regard competition as a good thing. The more competition, the more the message gets out inside the Ukrainian community about endowments or funding individual programs. We need to understand that we can trust one another in Ukrainian studies—we can operate as a national community of interest while competing. So that trust relationship, sharing of information, and transparency are the elements needed to create a much more powerful vehicle than we currently have. The models used in the 1980s, 1990s, and so on have shown what they can do. The time has come to envision a different model for fundraising. There are many people in Canada, not just of Ukrainian background, as we have heard at this conference, who are interested in what we do. But communication between the community, particularly donors, and the academy leaves much to be improved. We have the resources to do it. We just have to set that as a priority and focus on it.

Nadia Jacyk:

With regard to Dr. Petryshyn’s idea of a different model, I would just ask whether it would not be a good idea to study other ethnic groups that possibly have very vast and successful studies at different universities, and take what they do successfully and mimic it. Trying to create something ourselves may be not the most prudent way to go. If there is no example to follow, then you have to be a pioneer, and with pioneering come all kinds of challenges and risks. So I would urge that maybe somebody, and I do not know if it would be me. I am not volunteering myself for it—see whether the academic institutes know or can help us find out about achievements in Chinese, Russian, or East Indian studies, or anything somewhat similar to ours.

Larissa Blavatska (Ottawa):

Thank you for this excellent, very informative panel, which addressed issues that I personally have been interested in for some time. I was very interested throughout the two days to hear that many of the issues that Ukrainian studies, whether scholars or administrators, are grappling with are felt throughout the humanities and social sciences. That is, the corporatization of the university system has hit the Faculty of Arts particularly at this university, which has also undertaken a very misguided effort to be in the top twenty universities internationally. This is an impossible goal, and it has disproportionately affected the study of liberal arts at the U of A.

One of my particular concerns is the status of the Institute here at the university. At one point, in my understanding, it was an independent institution affiliated with the university. It is now under the umbrella of the Faculty of Arts and reports to the Dean of Arts. I was not very happy with the comments made by the Dean of Arts. I did not feel that they were very reassuring—a lot of platitudes, but nothing very specific about what the university can do to continue championing the health of the Institute. I have a request, not a question.

My request would be that the Institute inform members of the community about three things. One is: what is the administrative status of the Institute? I know a lot of the administration has been taken over by the university, but what is the status of the Institute? And here I am not looking for pages of explanatory information but really what is the status of the endowment funds? There are a lot of stories…There was an email sent by a professor at this university a few days ago that I think many people have seen. My understanding is that the endowment funds specify how they are to be used. That is fair enough, so the Institute cannot take funds that the donor allocated for the study of poetry to fund a centre in Kharkiv or Ukrainian-Canadian studies. But my understanding—or at least I have heard various comments over the last few years—is that the endowment funds themselves have been taken over by the university for uses other than those specified by the donors.

Thirdly, I think of donors such as myself. I am not a large donor, but I have given enough money to be invited for lunch at one point by the Dean of Arts. I have not given money for the last two years because I have not been able to find out what is happening. I would ask you, Professor Kravchenko, to perhaps put the information on your website, perhaps send an email or letters to your mailing list, to clarify this for people such as myself. I am very happy to continue contributing, but I need reassurance that that money is going to be used by the Institute, and that it is not going to be taken over by the university for something that I was not planning to subsidize.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate the organizers. These two days have been very stimulating. I have certainly learned a lot. It was wonderful that both Professor Lupul and Petro Savaryn were here. It was wonderful that we heard from Bishop Gudziak. I think it was great that so many people who have been instrumental in furthering Ukrainian studies in Canada and abroad were here.

Larisa Sembaliuk-Cheladyn:

I am the community liaison for the Kule Folklore Centre as of two weeks ago, and I have the task of helping introduce our new director, Dr. Jelena Pogosjan. My takeaway from today’s session, actually from the whole day, was best expressed by Andrii Hladyshevsky with his passionate demonstration of how important it is to interact with our stakeholders. You actually walked down those steps and came down to our level, which is, I think, something all of us have to do. If we want new students in our classrooms, we have to go into the classrooms, recruit, go online, mingle with the students. If you want money, there are a lot of examples—six institutions that Dr. Petryshyn presented, with people who were actually interactive with their stakeholders. Bohdan Medwidsky, every one of you on the panel here, have gone out, had coffee with potential donors, explained to them why the money is needed, and how we will be responsible with the money they invest with us. We have to interact with them, make them feel comfortable with what we are doing. And lastly, I just wanted to comment on how Paul Grod interacted with the stakeholders. The UCC resolution for an academic advisory council is really worth considering, and I am glad it has been brought forward.

Bohdan Medwidsky:

You have three foundations represented here. My question is: would it be kosher if the three foundations gave one another the outcomes of their investment policies?

Andrew Hladyshevsky:

Well, we [at the Shevchenko Foundation] are pretty transparent. I think I just handed that out to everybody. One issue that I have, not with the people up here, but with many community organizations—some related to academics, others non-academic— is their unprofessional money management. The community could benefit from the expertise of some of the people up here in fund management. Community leaders could then lead without trying to be investment experts.

Nadia Jacyk:

I am in support of what Olga Kuplowska said, that it would be good to have gatherings of interest groups with similar goals. I am not so sure that I am excited about another intermediary or organizational level exercising oversight. Let us see the foundations that are already doing good work. The jury is still out on whether that is something I would support.

Olga Kuplowska:

I actually wanted to support what Larissa [Blavatska] was requesting, not only with regard to CIUS. When we are approached by donors, they often do not have a clear enough idea of how things work within universities—budgeting and costs. Sometimes even we do not have full information. The more we can educate stakeholders about how universities work, the better. When people see that there is going to be a return on their investment, they are prepared to lend support. But they need that information, and you want to have an informed consumer. So I would ask whoever is in a position to share that information to do so—but that information does need to get out.

Manoly Lupul:

I made a suggestion earlier, when there was a Ukrainian-Canadian panel here—and we are very glad to see you here, Paul Grod. The suggestion was very simple: we should have more emphasis on Ukrainian-Canadian studies, and a whole day should be devoted to that subject at the next Ukrainian Canadian Congress, following an agenda prepared perhaps by the directors’ consortium that was suggested, which is a good idea, or by your advisory committee. I do not care how the thing is structured. I do not care about models. Let us get going; that is all. But let us have that session, because the public needs to be sensitized. Public consciousness has to be aroused: they are giving money as Ukrainian Canadians, but there is very little study of them as people who are donating. I repeat, it would be good to have a whole day, with an agenda previously prepared, so that something concrete comes out of it.

Paul Grod:

I fully support and endorse what you have just proposed, and I have to say that this is a new chapter in the relationship between the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the directors and CIUS and the academic community of Ukrainian studies. I think there has been traditionally a misunderstanding, perhaps even a distrust of one another, and I think that this 25th congress was the first in my memory at which CIUS took such an active role. It is not just the community saying, “We need to bring together the academics in Ukrainian studies,” which is not particularly effective if  [academic] community does not want to be involved. So, if I am hearing you correctly, there is a sentiment—