Canadian Studies at BGSU falls victim to Ohio budget woes

A premier program at Bowling Green State University has fallen victim to the state’s budget woes.
The Canadian Studies Center has closed. Interim Director Christine Drennen has until September to
conclude its business.
Begun in 1991, the center has been funded solely through a line item in the Ohio budget. In February
legislators deleted the line item in an effort to reduce the state’s deficit.
Among the center’s popular offerings was the annual Reddin Symposium, begun more than 20 years ago by Dan
and Evelyn Reddin of Bowling Green to promote a better understanding of Canada. Its future is now
"The Canadian Studies program was once deemed a signature program, a gem, something other
institutions didn’t have," stated Rebecca Mancuso, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and
coordinator of the Canadian Studies academic minor. The center’s national reputation was based on its
educational, research, public policy and economic development activities. "It’s unfortunate the
university didn’t have the funds to continue it," she said.
According to the Association for Canadian Studies in the U.S., more than 70 universities offer courses on
Canada, including those with a single professor doing the teaching. Mancuso estimated about 20
universities have a loosely organized Canadian studies staff, while only a tiny handful have an actual
Canadian Studies Center with an office, research and outreach activities, such as at BGSU.
"It’s one of the best in the nation. It was such a popular program. It’s disappointing something so
unique should go."
"I don’t think it’s possible to quantify the impact," stated Tom Blaha, director of the Wood
County Economic Development Commission. "It’s a valuable resource we’ve come to rely on over the
… years. If it’s not there it will make it more difficult to link up economic opportunities between
Ohio companies and Canadian companies. Over the past several years the research, I know, has provided
opportunities for companies on both sides of the border to do business with each other."
Speaking as an alumnus, Blaha added, "It was a unique resource to the business community and
community at large offered by (BGSU). It was one of the things that put BGSU on the map."
"As you know the state’s budget is having some difficulties right now," explained Dr. Simon
Morgan-Russell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "They eliminated a number of line items,
two related to BGSU, and one was the Canadian Studies Center. … BGSU faces its own challenges in
relation to its budget. The loss of that line item from the state, we simply didn’t have those
funds" to replace it.
"It’s certainly something we regret doing. It’s certainly not something we did lightly. We gave it
an awful lot of thought. No one wants to be in the position of cutting staff. We’re in a really tight
spot," said the dean. He noted "limited resources have to be used to further the mission of
(the College of) Arts and Sciences."
But Morgan-Russell added, "Rather than seen as mercilessly cutting the program, we’ve worked to save
as many components as we can." The Canadian studies minor will continue, and the college is trying
"to find havens for those individual pieces of the center."
Mancuso said the academic program will survive "in some form" with a variety of courses related
to Canada still offered. The Pallister lectures will continue through the French Department, and Mancuso
will be organizing Canadian studies faculty research talks.
"The business dinner will very likely be cancelled," she ventured. "The Reddin Symposium
is up in the air."
"I don’t think anyone knows at this point," said Bowling Green Municipal Court Judge Mark
Reddin. While planning committee members came from various colleges at BGSU, it was the Canadian Studies
Center which coordinated all the efforts, putting together "a first class, first-rate
"It’s very disappointing of course. It was a bright spot the university was well known for. It
brought credit to the university. Unfortunately, in the ever smaller budget, this was the program they
decided to cut."