Q30 Exclusive interview with Quinnipiac President Judy Olian


Kaye Paddyfote, News Director

Quinnipiac University President Judy Olian sat down with Q30 Television News Director Kaye Paddyfote and talked about many things. The topics ranged from COVID-19, diversity equity and inclusion efforts, Olian’s ten-year master plan, and her time at Quinnipiac so far. 


As vaccines are rolling out, and almost 25% of adults in the United States have received their first dose of the vaccines, President Olian hopes the student body gets vaccinated as soon as they can.

“I hope that everyone takes the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Olian said. “Many of our students, faculty, and staff who are front-line medical and clinical workers were able to get vaccinated very early on, probably about 2000 of our community did.”

She mentioned the possibility of having a vaccination clinic on-campus before the spring semester ends.

“As the university, we are doing our very best, thanks to the governor’s office, and our partnership with some vendors here to try and get our students vaccinated here on campus, those that haven’t been before we take off for the spring break after commencement.”

Olian stated she is hopeful that there will be a more formal announcement soon regarding students getting vaccinating on campus.

She also mentioned that the university will wait on the CDC guidelines to determine if they need weekly COVID-19 testing that has been going on this semester. 

“The closer we are to 100% (students vaccinated) the less the need is for weekly testing.”

Due to COVID-19 and enrollment numbers being low compared to other academic years, some faculty and staff underwent furloughs and lay-offs.

“We expect to get back as close to normal as we can in the fall,” Olian said. “Most of the people that were furloughed were furloughed temporarily and are back.”

The pandemic has brought more attention to the lack of underrepresented people in spaces, especially at Quinnipiac University. Olian mentioned that all of the hirings are done with, 

“an eye towards, being very open and embracing of diversity,” Olian said 

Last year there were limited new hires due to the budget shortfall but, “34% of the hires were underrepresented minorities based on the most recent numbers I have seen from HR,” Olian said. “This year, in the first three months we hired 59% that were people of color and that’s because of our commitment to inclusive excellence.”

Olian mentioned the more role models that the university has that look like the diverse community the students come from, the more welcomed and inspired they may feel at Quinnipiac University.


The 10-year master facility plan

The master facility plan encompasses all of the physical aspects of campus. Buildings such as classrooms, academic buildings, labs, residential halls and more are a few of the projects that will be worked on. President Olian said that the breaking of the ground for the new Recreation and Wellness Center will happen in a couple of weeks. 

The plan is estimated at around $500,000 million dollars if everything were to be done in the plan Olian said. The plan may take a little longer than 10 years to complete in entirety given its “ambition” Olian said. 

With buildings being scoped out and a new health and wellness center being built the possibility of Public Safety having its own building is very likely. 

“I don’t know if this is going to be the case but certainly one example of that will be, student health services, the counseling center and medical center are moving into the recreation and wellness facility next fall,” Olian said. “And it is potentially going to be the case that Public Safety may move into that.”

Pres. Olian and the new Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes recognize that there should be a dedicated space for public safety that isn’t a residential hall. 


Diversity Equity and Inclusion efforts

In the coming weeks, there will be a second update to the ten-point plan to advance racial justice

“To my mind, no single statistic represents a change in culture. You have to move on multiple fronts to really achieve a change in culture that takes root and really reflects an inclusive excellence community over the long term,” Olian said. 

Over the upcoming summer Quinnipiac will be creating courses to be delivered at invulnerable high schools. According to President Olian, this will connect those students to the college classes and show them what it’s like and what is like at Quinnipiac University. 

The increase of New Haven Promise Scholars that attend Quinnipiac University has also increased the diversity among the student body. Olian mentioned that due to the New Haven Promise program, the number of underrepresented students quadrupled last year.

She also plans on expanding with another community college which will allow for those students to have a waived admission fee and help them once they are admitted here to manage their financials.

Other programs and initiatives that are designed to enhance diversity at Quinnipiac University are:

QUEST, which is a program that was started last year, and is a mentor/mentee program for underrepresented students on campus and it allows them to connect with other students that come from the same background.

There will also be a bridge program for veterans and to help them transition when they come to Quinnipiac and there will be an indigenous land statement for Native Americans. The data of the demographic of Quinnipiac’s students, faculty, staff will be published as part of the 10 point commitment.

Every college and school is going through a curriculum review to make sure that they are reflecting courses and content that acknowledge the history of underrepresented groups in the country. 

Now, these are not simple fixes, which is something President Olian acknowledges but it is a step in the right direction. 

There have been a number of incidents of hate crimes on campus this past year and from incoming students this past fall, President Olian said, “the university is extremely diligent, and if you want to use the word strict about examining and remediation around any incident that is formally logged.”

However, due to the protections under title nine and FERPA, the University can’t disclose to the students what exactly is in the report and what disciplinary actions were taken. 


Administration and Students 

Dr. Tom Ellet who is currently the Chief Experience Officer has a unique position that allows him to monitor student’s experience here at Quinnipiac and try to make it enhance it as best as he can.

Ellet has created a number of advisory boards which allow students to express their feelings on things such as dining and what they would like to see changed.

With the advisory boards, Olian said that is one of the reasons we have more food trucks on-campus.

President Olian did mention that not everyone is going to like the parking fee and the requirement of living on campus for three years but, the reason behind them is to have students be on-campus.

“We wanted to send that message that for also three years we want students to be on campus, we want students to have a fear of missing out (FOMO),” Olian said. “Therefore we are incentivizing students to live on campus. That was very much the logic, I understand that commuters are not happy….but it is a very small fee.”

There will be an upcoming virtual town hall and it will be centered around the update of the ten-point action plan. 


Reflection over the years

The end of this school year will mark President Olian’s third year at Quinnipiac University. She’s most proud of the way the bobcat community has come together under adversity.

“We haven’t lost our kindness, our generosity towards each other, our care to the institution, whether it was our faculty and staff that totally rallied when needed,” Olian said. “I’m most proud of the way our students express love and care for Quinnipiac and each other, and have therefore enabled us to be in-person.”