A new health and wellness center to be built despite employee layoffs


Courtesy: HQ Press

Hannah Mirsky

Quinnipiac University will be moving forward with their plans to construct a new health and wellness center after announcing a $55 million budget shortfall back in May.

The 10-year vision for the new health and wellness center had been in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the university to reduce its capital spending for the upcoming academic year.

“Our facilities master planning process is guided by a 10-year vision with capital projects that go hand-in-hand with our strategic vision,” the Associate Vice President for Public Relations, John Morgan stated in an email. “While that vision still holds, we are slowing our capital programs and reducing our originally planned capital spend for 2020-21 by nearly $10 million as we address the budget pressures brought on by COVID-19. Every decision was labored over, considered from every perspective, and ultimately made to protect the university’s future and fulfil our academic mission.”

Staff and students composed a letter addressed to President Judy Olian in support of the 38 employees that were laid off due to low enrollment and in COVID-19 costs.

“While this letter largely speaks to the impact of the faculty layoffs, we stand in solidarity with our laid-off staff colleagues as well,” the letter stated. “We ask for a transparent report of your financial calculations and decision-making process and the immediate reinstatement of all those affected.”

Members of the management committee wrote an email back to students and staff who signed the letter describing their decisions to lay off staff as “especially hard and emotional”.

“We value the caring and respectful relationship between the leadership and faculty of Quinnipiac, and we acknowledge the absolutely central role our dedicated and talented faculty have played in Quinnipiac’s rapid advancement,” the email stated. “We look forward to our continued collaboration to meet the significant challenges ahead, as there are many. Together, we can be confident that we will overcome the present setbacks and emerge an even stronger community and distinguished university.”

Paul Goodchild, a former Assistant Professor of Accounting in the School of Business, who had only begun working at Quinnipiac for one year received an email requesting a meeting with the Quinnipiac administration.

“I did not expect layoffs, but the possibility of layoffs and furloughs were mentioned in the June 5, School of Business meeting,” said Goochild. “I felt good until I received a meeting request on Friday, June 12.”

Quinnipiac notified their former staff almost a month after the required notification date that they were no longer going to be on staff.

“Faculty and staff should have been notified earlier,” Goodchild said. “Hiring for jobs in academia typically takes place in November through February, so it will be difficult for us to find jobs. The university disregarded the faculty handbook, which requires notification by May 15.”

Goodchild has begun his search for a new job in hopes of finding a tenure track faculty position at another university but he describes the market as not good at the moment.

“It’s likely I’ll have to take a visiting or instructor position for a year or two and maintain my home in East Longmeadow and wherever I’m working. I’ve filled out more than 30 applications, but there do not appear to be any full-time faculty jobs at universities accounting in New England,” Goodchild said.

While former employees search for jobs, the local attorney Bernie Pellegrino met with the Hamden Inland Wetlands Commission to introduce Quinnipiac’s preliminary plans for the new health and wellness center.

There will be a final vote in September once the Hamden Inland Wetlands Commission takes a site walk, to make sure the construction will not impact the surrounding wetlands.