By Maria Spano and Stephen MacLeod
[media-credit id=2242 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]President John Lahey spoke among the Quinnipiac University administration that met with the student body on Wednesday, March 28 at the annual State of the QUnion, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA).
Lahey welcomed and addressed students and administration to the event for his last time as President of the university before he retires in July.
“For my 31 years here, the focus has been the students,” Lahey said. “We value a student-oriented environment, and that’s a value that we’ve lived each and every day. When I meet with senior management, I always ask the question ‘What will be best for the students?’‘What will enhance the quality of their education?’ ‘What is their life like outside of the classroom?’ and, ‘What is the value of a Quinnipiac education experience?’”
Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Mark Thompson, Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Sal Filardi, Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Don Sawyer, Assistant Chief of Public Safety James Nealy, Director of Residential Life Mark DeVilbiss and Director of Student Conduct Megan Buda were all present at the town-hall style meeting to answer student-submitted questions about problems facing Quinnipiac students everyday.
The event covered a large range of topics including diversity and inclusion on campus, the string of power outages that have taken place in residence halls, safety and security on campus, the lack of student housing, club sports, health and wellness, gender-inclusive housing, and new construction on campus. Above all, the Administrative Executives requested for students to reach out and tell administration what changes they want to see as the university enters a new era.
Thompson, whose position centers around student experience in the classroom and out, opened the event with a rare breakdown of where money is distributed into the school.
Thompson explained that “about 90 percent of all tuition and fees go back to students.”
About 40 percent of that money goes to financial aid, 50 percent to classroom instruction and the rest funds campus life and student athletics, according to Thompson
The discussion then shifted towards Quinnipiac’s efforts toward diversity both in the student population and the staff population.
With the growing focus on diversity, plans are being made to promote both diversity on campus and within multicultural organizations to spread throughout the Quinnipiac community.
Then the questions moved toward the residence halls and the string of power outages and water issues that have plagued students on the Mount Carmel dorms all year.
“The problem with these outages is that it is all high voltage electricity so we have to bring in specially-trained contractors,” Filardi said. “They have to come in and see what the fault is, look at the cause of the outage and then repair it. It does take a little bit of time, unfortunately.”
[media-credit id=2242 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The new plan comes in two parts, the first being a project that will begin this summer to replace the generators, transformers and the high-powered lines to prevent further power outages, according to Filardi.
Nealy addressed concerns regarding safety and security on campus. He reassured students that Public Safety undergoes frequent training and they also work with the Hamden Police, Yale University, Connecticut State Police and the FBI to maintain proper security measures. He also said the school was considering adding more blue lights on campus.
“We preach common basic safety,” Nealy said. “If you see something, say something.”
The questions then moved to Quinnipiac’s construction plans which Thompson went into detail on.
Firstly, the studio in the McMahon Center will be moved to the first floor of the Center for Communications and Engineering. There will be a full renovation of the Communication facilities over the summer. Secondly, he went into detail about the previously announced York Hill senior residence halls.
The conference lasted a little over an hour and a large stress was put on the administration’s desire to hear from student about what they think would improve Quinnipiac.
Thompson gave more details on Quinnipiac’s considerations to improve the school.
Thompson explained that the current considerations fall into three categories: academic excellence, improving the student experience, and expanding health and wellness services.
Achieving academic excellence will include leveling off enrollment, which has long been a desire for students worrying about overpopulation. In 2006, Quinnipiac’s enrollment stood at about 5,200. Today, it stands around 7,000, which is the number the university has long desired to reach.
[media-credit id=2242 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Thompson also wants to focus on improving quality for the undergrad population, more applied learning opportunities and a focus on a core set of skills. Thompson also hopes to admit more veterans or active duty service members as well as offering more adult-level online courses. Thompson says the school is also looking abroad to both provide the school with a more global culture and to compete in a competitive region.
Thompson also wants to focus on improving the overall student experience. Renovating fitness centers, fixing the residence halls with help from student feedback, funding club sports, new Living Learning Communities, and more opportunities for leadership developments are all points of focus for Student Affairs.
Health and Wellness is a section that Thompson believes needs to evolve to meet the modern needs of students. While he praised the Health and Wellness staff as “phenomenal,” he did say that the school needed to expand the services to include more workers to meet demand, nutritional therapists, and a proactive approach rather than the current reactive.
While SGA president Ryan Lynch expressed his pleasure with the answers given, some students did not get to hear responses to some issues they see on campus.
Parking continues to be a problem for many, with many sophomores frustrated their parking remains on York Hill while most of the sophomore housing remains on Mount Carmel campus.
“I feel what happened is not really reasonable,” sophomore game design major Shaun Urban said. “I see Hilltop lot is empty all the time and you can’t park there. You shouldn’t have to make a day plan just to go to Chipotle.”
Some still expressed their frustration with the food on campus. Many students feel that they have to eat the same thing over and over, especially those trying to eat healthy.
“I think they do too many fancy dishes and should do some more basic stuff,” senior economics major Alex Robiner said. “There’s not a good variety of healthy choices. It’s nice you can get grilled chicken anytime and all but I want to be healthy and have different stuff to eat.”
As the State of the QUnion came to a close, all the Administration Executives stressed for students to reach out and tell administration what changes they want to see as President Olian’s sun rises.