10 Questions with President Yellen

10 Questions with President Yellen

Question: Can you describe your major long and short term goals for Marist, and briefly highlight any notable projects underway for Spring 2019?

Answer: The 2018-23 Strategic Plan does a good job of summarizing where we would like Marist to go.  In general, we want to expand and diversify the College’s revenue stream (in light of a challenging environment for private higher education), make a Marist education more accessible to more students, and ensure high-quality educational experiences and outcomes for our students.

Q. What is the status of the Medical school in terms of construction, accreditation approvals, the search for the founding dean, and general engagements?

  1. The School of Medicine will seek approvals from the national accrediting body for medical education programs – the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) – as well as the New York State Education Department and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; we expect to receive these approvals in summer 2021.  We plan to break ground later this spring on the new building site (located on the campus of Vassar Brothers Medical Center), with occupancy of the new building expected in spring 2022. The search for the founding dean and other key personnel has begun and is ongoing. The first class is expected to begin studies in 2022.  

Q. Can you provide us with an update on priority points? Have you come to a conclusion on the issue...Will we be abolishing the system, maintaining it, or changing it? If not, when will a final decision be made?

  1. The priority points system is still under review, and no final decisions have been made.  Keeping, modifying or eliminating the system are all on the table. I will be participating in an SGA-sponsored town hall to discuss the issue on Wednesday, February 9 at 11:30 a.m. in the Fusco Recital Hall.

Q. A lingering concern among many students is adequate on campus housing. This semester, some juniors and seniors returning from abroad have been placed in sophomore housing (Foy, Lower West, Upper Fulton). Despite the construction of additional residence halls, do you still see housing shortage as an issue at Marist? If so, how do you plan on addressing the problem?

  1. There is not a shortage of housing on campus, but we can’t always guarantee that students get the room they want.  This is largely the result of the imbalance in the number of students studying abroad in the fall versus the spring.  The students who return from fall study abroad are placed in the beds (for the most part) of the students who study abroad in the spring.  There is also an imbalance in terms of which class years study abroad each semester. So this spring, for example, 70 students who went abroad (about half) were sophomores, while most of the students returning from fall study abroad were juniors and seniors.  Once the empty junior/senior beds were filled, the remaining upperclassmen (30) had to be placed in sophomore beds. We don’t want to start telling students when they can study abroad – we want them to choose – so in some cases, students will be assigned rooms (based on priority points) and they won’t be completely happy, unfortunately.  We are going to look into getting housing assignments out sooner to Juniors and Seniors returning from abroad, so they can look off campus if they don’t like their options.

Q. Now that the Steel Plant is completed, will the College still be utilizing 51 Fulton?

  1. Yes, we will continue to use 51 Fulton.  In the short run, it will probably continue as swing space during the renovations on Dyson.

Q. How will the open spaces from the empty fashion rooms in Donnelly be used?

  1. The Donnelly fashion space will be used to house faculty and staff displaced by the Dyson addition and renovation.  After Dyson is complete, it will serve as office space for various departments.

Q. It is our understanding that the Diversity Council did not receive enough responses for last semester’s Climate Survey results to be utilized.  How will the Council proceed from here? Will the existing survey results be used in any way?

  1. That’s actually not correct.  The Climate Survey did receive sufficient participation for the data to be useful.  I have not yet seen any of the data, but the results are currently being analyzed, and a report will be released later this spring.

Q. How do you plan on continuing in your goal to increase diversity on the Marist campus at large?

  1. One of our biggest fundraising goals is to secure additional funds for need-based scholarships.  Marist’s participation in the American Talent Initiative is an important part of these efforts to increase diversity, particularly among Pell-eligible students.  We have begun making progress with racial and socioeconomic diversity, but more remains to be done. The Climate Survey itself was an effort to assess the campus climate and identify areas where Marist is succeeding and areas in which we can do better.

Q. Does the school plan on renovating and/or replacing Dyson Hall and if so, when will that process begin?

  1. Yes.  The current Dyson building will be completely renovated and a new addition will be constructed.  We are currently working with the Deans and faculty of the Schools of Management and Social & Behavioral Sciences to assess current and future needs, benchmark other schools’ facilities, and plan programming.  Final floor plans and schematic designs will be complete by early March, and we expect construction to begin in later summer. Residents of Dyson would be relocated to other areas of campus, e.g., Lowell Thomas, Donnelly, 51 Fulton, etc.  We expect the new space in Dyson to be occupied in spring 2021.

Q. Is the McCann Arena expected to open by the beginning of next school year (Fall 2019) as scheduled?

  1. Work on the McCann project is progressing as scheduled, and we expect the building to be complete in late fall 2019.