QU President Judy Olian addresses campus news. Here’s what you need to know.

Katie Langley, News Editor

Quinnipiac University President Judy Olian sat down with student media on Feb. 13 to discuss her four-and-a-half years at the institution and answer questions about recent campus news, including the construction of the South Quad and plans to increase campus diversity, equity and inclusion.

Here are the key topics Olian spoke about:

South Quad construction

Construction crews broke ground on the $293 million South Quad project earlier this winter after receiving final approval from the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 13.

Olian said the new 417-bed first-year residential hall, 142,000-square-foot general academic building and 80,000-square-foot business school included in the South Quad plan will foster “cutting-edge” research and development.

“When we think about buildings, we don’t think about brick-and-mortar walls,” Olian said. “We think of them as enablers. What is it that our students, faculty and staff are going to be able to do through the building that they couldn’t otherwise do.”

However, the project was controversial among some Hamden residents, who expressed concerns about the initial rezoning of the Mount Carmel Campus for the South Quad initiative.

Olian stressed the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the town of Hamden following the approval of South Quad construction. (Peyton McKenzie)

Noting that the South Quad planning process was “extensive and comprehensive,” Olian said the university was supported by the Hamden PZC.

As Quinnipiac moves forward with its 10-Year Master Facilities Plan, Olian emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the Hamden community.

“Let’s be clear, when we thrive, the town thrives, because we’re the biggest employer other than the government in town… and on top of that, all of the businesses in the town really enjoy the relationships that they have with the students, faculty and staff,” Olian said.

Accessibility concerns

Following coverage by the Chronicle revealing flaws in the university’s approach to accessibility, Olian said that she is focused on helping students with differing abilities succeed at Quinnipiac.

However, Olian also said she recognizes that the path changes from the ongoing South Quad construction poses an accessibility issue to some. She encouraged students with accessibility concerns pertaining to the new detours to reach out to the Office of Student Accessibility.

“We need a bit of patience because this is a big project,” Olian said. “We’ll get there, and we want to minimize any forms of disruption. It’s all about students, including those who have special accommodations, so please let us know if there are any issues.”

Olian also referred students to the Student Accessibility Advisory Committee, which administrators committed to creating in November following a Student Government Association resolution calling on the university to audit the OSA. The committee is currently taking applications, according to MyQ, Quinnipiac’s student website.

Campus diversity

Olian also responded to questions about campus diversity, following the results of the Inclusive Excellence Survey, released on Dec. 6. Over 45% of student respondents to the survey said that campus is not diverse.

The survey will help Quinnipiac “establish a baseline” for which to improve upon issues of diversity, Olian said.

“I don’t think there’s any single initiative that will make us a more diverse campus,” Olian said. “It is all the little acts of kindness, of generosity, of pipeline development.”

Olian added that the university is now reaching out to high schools in more diverse areas to recruit potential students and will continue to provide programming focused on diversity.

Olian responded to the Inclusive Excellence Survey results, which showed that 45% of student respondents said campus is not diverse. (Peyton McKenzie)

Diversity, equity and inclusion leadership

When asked about the departures of former Title IX coordinator Dennis Kwarteng and outgoing Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Leadership Development Don Sawyer, Olian said that the turnover is not unusual, despite the appearance of instability within the DEI staff.

Kwarteng left his position at Title IX coordinator in January “for another professional opportunity” after three years in the role, according to a Jan. 10 email from Sawyer. Civil Rights and Title IX Investigator Sarah Hellyer is currently serving as the interim Title IX coordinator.

Less than two weeks later, Olian announced in a Jan. 23 email to the university community that Sawyer will leave his current position in July to join Fairfield University after 11 years at Quinnipiac.

Olian said during the interview that the university is conducting a “nationwide search” for a new DEI head.

“We expect to get somebody who is going to be extremely qualified and continue the journey that I think has been very impactful towards building on the culture of inclusivity and continuing the internal commitment to that all across the university,” Olian said. “And remember, (DEI) starts with the leadership team, but it does not end with the leadership team.”

Supporting community members from Turkey and Syria

Following a Feb. 6 earthquake estimated to have killed over 40,000 people in Turkey and Syria, Olian sent an email to the Quinnipiac community on Feb. 10, to share resources accepting donations, including the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.

“I just cannot imagine the sense of loss and heartbreak that is going on, with lost lives and missing lives and hardships that families are going through,” Olian said during the Feb. 13 interview.

The Counseling Center held a support group for those impacted by the earthquake on Feb. 13, according to the email from Olian.

Olian encouraged the community during the interview to assist aid efforts through donating to aid organizations and emotionally supporting Quinnipiac community members from Syria and Turkey.