What Olian said in Q30 TV interview

Chatwan Mongkol, Associate News Editor

Quinnipiac University President Judy Olian sat down with Q30 Television News Director Kaye Paddyfote on April 12, to discuss various topics, including students’ residential life, the 10-year master facilities plan, racism incidents on campus and the university’s response to COVID-19.

The following is a non-chronological summary of what Olian said in a 34-minute interview with Q30 TV.

Residential life and parking fee

  • As the university is trying to create a stronger residential living experience, it wants students to live on campus for three years.
  • There is an appeal process for students who wish not to live on campus.
  • The university wants commuter students to have a fear of missing out because they are not living on campus.
  • Olian said that was the logic for commuter parking fees, as the administration wants students to live on campus as it will be more vibrant.
  • While Olian understands that some commuter students are not happy about it, she said $90 is a very small amount.
  • When Olian attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she said she also paid parking fees.

Students’ involvement in decision-making process

  • Quinnipiac is the first university in the country to have a chief experience officer, Tom Ellett, whose sole purpose is to focus on students’ experience.
  • Olian said students’ voices have been louder since Ellett joined the university through student advisory groups.
  • Olian also emphasized communication with parents. There will be an admitted parent session later this week.

Commitment to inclusive excellence

  • The university hired fewer people in 2020, but 34% of the new hires were underrepresented minorities.
  • During the first three months of 2021, 59% of the new hires were people of color. 
  • Other actions the university has done to promote inclusive excellence include delivering university’s courses to diverse high schools to give them some college experience, expanding community college agreements and preparing a welcoming environment for incoming students through New Haven Promise and QUEST programs.
  • The university is developing a bridge program for veterans and an Indigenous land statement for Native Americans.
  • The university will soon be publishing the demographic data of students and staff.
  • Curriculum review is underway to sufficiently emphasize history of underrepresented minorities.
  • Second update of the 10-point plan to advance racial justice will come out in the coming weeks.
  • There will be a town hall this month about the update of diversity and the 10-point plan.

Racial incidents on campus

  • The university is strict about examining and remedying all the incident reports through Title IX and student conduct process.
  • Most information cannot be shared with students as it is protected by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Title IX for confidentiality reasons.
  • Even though some student organizations are also involved in the process, they cannot share information because of the legality.
  • The university is always trying to educate its community members about racial biases. There is bias training for faculty and staff and a diversity and inclusion course for students.
  • When Paddyfote asked if Olian was aware of public safety’s racial profiling incidents, Olian said new Public Saftey Chief Otoniel Reyes will bring his experience being a police chief in a racially diverse city to Quinnipiac.

COVID-19 vaccine

  • Olian hopes Quinnipiac members get vaccinated whenever they can. She complimented the state officials for their allocation plan.
  • Gov. Ned Lamont’s office partnered with local vendors in an effort to get students vaccinated before the semester ends.
  • The more people who get the vaccine, the faster the university can get back to normal in the fall.
  • The university needs to wait for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guideline and vaccination rate to determine whether there will be weekly COVID-19 testing in the fall.

Budget shortfall

  • The university adjusted over $10 million of its budget in the 2020 fiscal year to respond to COVID-19.
  • Very few employees were laid off. Some employees had to take furlough to save the budget. Faculty needed to teach more classes.
  • Most of the people who were temporarily furloughed are back.
  • Olian was really grateful for the employees’ sacrifices to keep the university going amid the pandemic.

Ten-year master facilities plan

  • The estimated cost of the whole plan is around $500 million and it will take 10 years or longer to complete.
  • The plan outlines new academic buildings, residence halls, labs and classrooms.
  • Construction for the new recreation and wellness center will begin in the coming weeks, and it will be ready for use in the fall 2022 semester.
  • Olian does not know at this point if public safety will have its own building, but it is likely that it can replace the current health and wellness center. The university will determine that when it completes more things on the plan.

Town hall

  • Olian said she loves hosting town halls because she learns a lot and has hosted numerous virtual ones in the past.