State of the QUnion
By Lauren Beeman
Quincy University held a State of the University forum in the Hall of Fame Room at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 24.
Interim Chief Operating Officer, Phil Conover, interim Chief Financial Officer, Tom Ponto, and Dean of Students, Christine Tracy hosted the address.
“As all of you know, Quincy University went through some disruptions last fall in terms of finances,” Conover said.
The address was separated into three parts: the financial overview, the reboot strategies, and campus life.
Ponto began by providing a general overview of university income and expenditures.
“It’s no secret that QU is student revenue dependent just like a lot of other small colleges and universities,” Ponto said.
Ponto explained that 70 percent of QU’s revenue comes from net tuition and fees coupled with room and board.
“We needed to quantify where we were financially and that’s what Tom Ponto has done,” Conover said.
Quincy University administrators have constructed a plan under Ponto’s guidance to achieve financial equilibrium, something Ponto said is only possible if the university continues to “live within its means.”
The long term solutions to establish equilibrium include increasing undergraduate enrollment to 1,200 students, increasing graduate student enrollment to 150, and to increase the university’s overall graduation rate to anywhere between 50-60 percent.
The administration hopes these long term solutions can be achieved by the 2020-2021 academic year.
Ponto and his team set a goal to raise 7 million dollars in recovery efforts, and as of this week, the university has already received 3.7 million in commitments towards the final goal.
QU has recently received legal permission to obtain 4.5 million dollars in endowment money to use toward the recovery effort.
Ponto says that by the 2018-2019 school year, QU should reach financial equilibrium, but that includes a 2.5 million dollar depreciation. However, by the time the 2020-2021 school year rolls around, the university will reach full financial equilibrium including the depreciation value.
A prevention plan was also discussed. The university intends to increase financial engagement by the Board of Trustees, the Executive Team will be included and involved with financial discussions, and a faculty planning and budget committee, headed by Associate Professor of Accounting Vicky Eidson, will monitor QU’s performance and long range planning.
Conover segued into the second portion of the presentation by explaining that while financial efficiency is important, the university also needs to focus on growth.
The growth of the university was broken down into 5 major areas: enrollment, branding and marketing, new academic initiatives, shared governance, and campus life.
In the fall of 2016, the total number of enrolled undergraduate students was 934, and in order to increase that number to 1200 by the year 2020, Conover and his team created 14 plans of action.
Included in these plans are the recently announced partnership with John Wood Community College, international recruitment, expansion of dual credit, and a larger recruitment territory among many others.
“We have to be innovative and we have to be creative,” Conover said.
As far as marketing and branding, the university will now offer digital acceptance letters to potential incoming freshman. QU has also partnered with a marketing firm that will work to redesign and promote Quincy University.
While external marketing seems to be an area of passion for Conover, internal rebranding is equally as important.
Conover stressed to all students the idea of shared governance, and within that concept, the idea of transparency. Conover urged students to bring any and all questions to him, even the tough ones, and promised to answer them to the best of his ability.
“I need to hear from all of you. We can turn this around if we all work together. This is going to work if we all work together,” Conover said.
Conover also hopes to improve the standard of living for QU students and invited Tracy to explain the plans to change campus life.
The first act of business will be to improve the Wi-Fi around campus. The proposal to improve it will be finalized on Wednesday, and the new system will be implemented over summer.
Tracy concluded by explaining the details of the revitalization program that will take place over the summer, and additionally discussed plans to boost student programming and activities, as well as the plan to create one-stop-shops to ease student experience.
“You have to get out of your residence halls and you have to be involved in things,” Tracy said. “Create your own experiences.”
Student Government Association Vice-President, Mary Argana, felt the meeting provided many details that the students needed.
“The meeting was all about being clear and transparent. The administration is willing to hear us out and they are willing to put what we want into action,” Argana said. “They are going to fix the problems if we have them.”