Quinnipiac University President John Lahey detailed the institution’s five-year, $100-million “Plan for Academic Excellence” and then fielded students’ questions that included concerns about the Health Services facility being overcrowded to student deaths stemming from substance-abuse incidents, at the Student Government Association meeting Feb. 8.
In his first appearance at an SGA meeting in three years, Lahey told a room of about 75 people that the Plan for Academic Excellence includes the proposed construction of a graduate health science building on the Sherman Avenue campus, the construction of an undergraduate liberal arts building on the Mount Carmel campus, the renovation of the Echlin and Lender buildings, and the hiring of 25 full-time faculty members to the university.
Additionally, Lahey said the university plans to build a 1,500-occupant residence hall on the Sherman Avenue campus. The university will submit a proposal for this plan to the Town of Hamden within a month, he said.
The university plans to keep its undergraduate student enrollment at its current number, approximately 5,500 students, Lahey said. The university plans to increase its graduate student enrollment, Lahey said, though he cited no numbers.
Antonia Bortone, an SGA sophomore class representative, asked Lahey whether the university’s Health Services facilities would be expanded. During the course of the 2004-2005 academic year, 40 students seeking treatment at Health Services left without getting treatment, Bortone said.
“I would certainly plead guilty to the charges you described,” Lahey said, noting that the Health Services facility will be allotted more space once the Sherman Avenue residence hall is built.
Joey Vines, the SGA vice president of finance, asked Lahey whether the university would institute any policies to combat substance abuse in the wake of the alcohol-related death of student Ricardo Petrillo in September 2005.
In response, Lahey said that SGA students and other student leaders wield far greater influence on their peers’ decision making than administrators do. He encouraged the student leaders to take the initiative to foster a campus culture that would be characterized by “support for non-alcohol events.”
Brandon Cavanaugh, the SGA senior class president, asked Lahey whether the university was doing anything to improve its relationship and image in the Hamden community.
Lahey said that the university had placed advertisements in local newspapers touting the ways the institution benefited the community, from students interning in the town government and shopping at local businesses to the university being the largest taxpayer in Hamden.
“I would say an overwhelming majority of Hamden residents view Quinnipiac University favorably,” Lahey said. “The business community knows the value of a Q-Card.”
Lauren Bedell, an SGA senior class representative, asked Lahey whether the university would take any measures “to increase its diversity.”
Lahey said that the university had “not had the success we would have liked” in attaining a more diverse student and faculty body. “But relative to Quinnipiac University of the past, Quinnipiac University of the present is better,” Lahey said.