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Quinnipiac’s financial decisions remain under wraps

Emily DiSalvo, Arts and Life Editor

Quinnipiac University is facing widespread financial shortfalls, but the administration will not comment on how this will affect students.

Quinnipiac offered faculty and staff the option to retire early to reduce costs, and faculty and staff took a pay cut of 3 to 5 percent from March through June as a result of the pandemic. The year’s upcoming budget will be a challenge to balance and cuts are expected, but students won’t learn what these financial challenges mean for them until after the decisions have been made.

President Judy Olian is scheduled to meet with the Board of Trustees on June 18, to approve a final budget for the 2020-21 school year. 

The Quinnipiac Chronicle reached out to John Morgan, vice president of public relations on June 10, to request a short interview with Olian prior to the meeting to learn more about how the financial struggles will affect students.

Morgan informed The Chronicle that Olian has a “challenging” week of preparation ahead of her and would not be available to meet until after the budget has been decided. Olian is working on the budget and COVID-19 recovery planning — the later of which has employed 56 administrators, faculty members and staff spread across four planning committees.

The Chronicle also reached out to Robert Smart, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to ask how the budget cuts would affect his programs. 

Smart replied in an email, “None of us really (know), because the final budgets have not been approved by the Board.”

Aileen Dever, associate professor of Spanish, said she heard that some adjunct faculty will be cut for the time being, but they hope to bring them back after the financial struggles have passed.

As a result of the financial challenges related to COVID-19, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Jennifer Brown notified all faculty recipients of sabbatical leaves on June 1, by email, that her office would defer all sabbaticals, according to a faculty member who planned to go on leave this year. 

“Deferring sabbaticals will be one of several ‘levers’ we will pull to keep our finances in balance,” Brown wrote. “It is not our first or only difficult choice we will have to make.”

No one is telling students what those other choices are.

The lost revenue and additional expenses related to testing and personal protective equipment for the upcoming semester is compounded by a recent Title IX decision that mandates Quinnipiac to invest more in women’s sports. On top of that, Olian’s master plan requires spending money on new facilities, including the ongoing construction and remodeling of her university-owned house .

A proposed change to the consent decree for Biediger v. QU, as outlined in court documents, requires the university to allocate four new full scholarships to the  women’s track and field team, resurface the elevated track in the recreation center and elevate the women’s volleyball team to Tier One. The designation requires more scholarships to women’s volleyball players and the building of a new training facility exclusively for varsity athletes.

The Chronicle reached out to women’s athletic coaches, as well as to Morgan to comment about the lawsuit and how the university will fund these requirements in the midst of the financial strife.

Morgan said neither athletic director Greg Amodio nor Brown are available for comment. He provided this statement, however:

“Quinnipiac is committed to providing equal outstanding opportunities for all our Division 1 athletes and ensuring equitable treatment of all athletes. The university has invested in our female athletes by providing additional investments in scholarships, athletic training, strength and conditioning, facilities, marketing and promotions, sports psychology, and other benefits. We believe these improvements will greatly enhance the opportunities available to our female athletes and further strengthen our women’s athletics program.”

The Chronicle also reached out to a women’s coach on Friday, June 5, who said she was told she could not comment on the lawsuit. The Chronicle then obtained a copy of an email that Nick Sczerbinski, an associate athletic director, sent to all coaches on June 5, reminding them not to comment on the matter.

The cuts to funding related to COVID-19 are not unique to Quinnipiac. 

Many students across America will return to school to find that things are not the same as they were when they left. There will be masks and social distancing, but some of the professors, programs and amenities students have become accustomed to may have been slashed by administrators eager to balance the budget.

As for Quinnipiac students, they will know little to nothing about the process Quinnipiac administration is working through right now as they make decisions about the following year until after the decisions have been made.

This is a developing story. Stay with the Chronicle for updates.