Taylor University began its educational endeavors in Ireland with the Irish Studies Program. The program was conceived as a semester long study abroad program designed to expand the cultural and spiritual awareness of Taylor University students by studying and experiencing the history and culture of Ireland. Students’ semesters are enriched by exposure to Ireland’s fine arts, exploration of the land, and experiences with her people.
The Program was conceived in 1999 by Dr. Vance and Mrs. Tammi Maloney and supported in development by Drs. Stephen Bedi, Beulah Baker, Tom Jones and Dwight Jessup. The program began in January 2001 after a site was secured in 2000.
The Irish Studies Program got its feet off the ground when thirty-two Taylor University students, led by Dr. Vance and Mrs. Tammi Maloney, journeyed to Greystones, CO Wicklow, Ireland in January 2001. While in Ireland, the students took Celtic Christianity, Irish History, Irish Literature, Contemporary Ireland, Living Cross-Culturally, Hiking, Participation in the Arts; these classes were taught by Upland faculty members and an Irish instructor, Mr. Robert Dunlop. These classes remain the same for the most part to this day.
Mrs. Jennifer Lewis joined the program as instructor in 2002 and continues to serve as instructor, chaplain, and counselor. The program continued to flourish and grow both in programming and student numbers over the next ten years under the guidance of Dr. John and Cathy Moore, Dr. and Mrs. Maloney, Dr. and Mrs. Harbin, Dr. Cynthia and Mr. Stan Tyner, Dr. Scott and Mrs. Jennifer Moeschberger, Mrs. Ruth Irvine, Mr. Kyle Lantz, and Ms. Laura Rodeheaver. Currently Mr. Stephen and Mrs. Sarah Jones are serving as the on-site directors of the program. Jennifer Lewis added Chaplain of the program to her duties of teaching and counseling with students. During these semesters’ students from Huntington University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Messiah College, Wheaton College, and Westmont College have joined the ranks of Irish Studies Program students.
The program experienced one great change when the program was expanded to include the Irish Studies Program Freshman Semester. A total of twenty-five freshmen and six upperclassmen journeyed to Ireland to experience their first college semester abroad. This unique program also put Taylor University on the map, as it is the only first time freshmen fall semester in the CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.)
Even today, the Irish Studies Program (not to mention the Freshman Irish Studies Program) continues to expand and grow by leaps and bounds. In twelve years, 15 different Taylor Faculty members as well as over 700 students have had the opportunity of a lifetime to explore the unique and beautiful country of Ireland for all it is worth.