Lahey also spoke about how the economy is affecting enrollment. According to him, applications are down about four percent from last year and deposits are down from where the number was two years ago. While deposits are “coming in much more slowly,” Lahey said, the admitted students days were ahead of where they were last year.
“There still seems to be a significant amount of interest in students and parents wanting to come to Quinnipiac,” Lahey said. “It’s really being driven by finances and the uncertainty of this economy and when it’s going to pick up. Clearly parents and students are holding back.”
Despite this, Lahey is not concerned that deposits are down.
“We have put together a fiscally conservative budget,” Lahey said. “Even if we are down next year in deposits, I’m confident today that we will have a balanced budget and we will not have some deficits that other institutions are going through.”
The Board of Trustees will vote to approve the final budget on May 12. Lahey also said that there hasn’t been any significant drop-off in the school’s retention rate of current students. The University announced a tuition increase of nearly five percent last December.
Another issue that has been on the minds of some students has been the decision to move commencement to the TD Banknorth Sports Center in time for the Class of 2010’s ceremony, as announced in a press release last month. However, Lahey noted that the plans have not been finalized and after the negative response from students, the ceremony will likely be held on the Quad next year as a single ceremony with a commencement speaker, weather permitting.
Lahey said this topic was first broached because the parking facilities will be complete for 2010 to theoretically have its ceremony at York Hill. Typically, the school spends about $75,000 to set up indoors in case of bad weather.
Because the arena and parking facilities would be ready at York Hill for next May’s graduation, the University floated around plans to hold a split ceremony in the basketball arena and save money to hold a free Senior Week in an effort to bring the senior class back together. The president didn’t expect the universally negative reaction, but was glad to see that students were debating issues.
“York Hill is not seen as the students’ campus yet,” Lahey said. “I think it’s accurate. Students have not had a lot of experiences up on the York Hill campus.”
Lahey had hoped that events such as the free skate, intramural basketball championships and the Ludacris concert would give students more opportunities to be on the campus.
Lahey attributed the negative reaction to the commencement decision to poor communication – there was limited student input on the commencement committee – and students being afraid of change. However, he said that future classes – possibly starting with the class of 2011 – will eventually have to have a split ceremony because commencement is getting too long to hold as one ceremony, according to Lahey.
“It’s easier for me to have one ceremony, personally,” Lahey said. “If I have to go to two ceremonies, that’s the entire day. I’m up there; I’m going to shake the same amount of hands.”
Lahey expects the Class of 2010’s commencement plans to be finalized in early September.
“Based on the reaction, unless something changes between now and then, I gather the Class of 2010 would much prefer to have the same thing the Class of 2009 is having,” Lahey said. “So I suspect that’s what we’ll do.”