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Niehoff makes an appearance

March 25th, 2010

John Carroll University President the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J. discussed fundraising, enrollment, communication with students and other issues during the Student Union meeting on March 23.

“While I want to empower the many staff and administrators who work with and support our students, having an opportunity to spend time with students is always a great and gratifying experience for me. I thank the Student Union for their invitation,” said Niehoff via an e-mail sent prior to the meeting.

Niehoff began with opening remarks and then answered several questions from the audience and members of Student Union. Questions were submitted on note cards distributed at the beginning of the meeting.

Student Union President Amanda Papa said Niehoff had not attended a Senate meeting since she became involved in SU her freshman year.

“I kind of wish more students had been there, but the quality of questions were good,” said Papa. “I was a little surprised that there weren’t more people, though.”

Fewer than 12 students were in the gallery for the meeting that was open to the entire JCU community.

“I want to make sure he follows up on his word. He can’t just issue empty statements,” said junior attendee Deanna Bouchahine, regarding Niehoff’s e-mail about updating JCU’s nondiscrimination policy to include LGBT persons.

JCU’s Nondiscrimination Policy

“We are well on our way to crafting a new statement,” said Niehoff.

He said he would attend a day-and-a-half retreat with the University’s vice presidents to discuss the issue and would be looking at the Equal Employment Opportunity Policies (EEOP) at two or three other institutions.

Fundraising

“Meeting like this is very important. I need to get a sense of what matters to you,” said Niehoff. “But my primary responsibility [as University president] is fundraising.”

Niehoff said JCU currently raises approximately $12 million each year, two-thirds of which comes in the form of cash. He said he has a fundraising goal of $20 million per year for the future.

Fundraising money goes toward scholarships, academic programs, renovations and athletic programs.

Enrollment

Fluctuating enrollment, which was down this year, and losses in state and federal aid make budgeting difficult, according to Niehoff.

“Enrollment looks like a ping-pong ball, which isn’t good for planning,” said Niehoff.

The administration has an enrollment goal of 700 incoming freshman in the fall.

Academics

Niehoff said students should make sure their questions are being asked to the proper entities at JCU. Concerns about academic programs, for instance, should be addressed to department chairs.

“Faculty at JCU absolutely control all of our academic programs,” said Niehoff.

Academic Vice President John Day said an academic minor in leadership was recently approved. He said an academic major in East Asian studies and a major and minor in peace, justice and human rights are close to happening as well.

Communication with Students

“I think every day about what will make John Carroll better,” said Niehoff. “I don’t blow off any of these questions or your concerns.”

Niehoff suggested that SU and other students meet with University vice presidents and department heads to get answers to some of their questions.

Niehoff said, “Yes, let’s do this again, but feel free to invite others.”

Student Response

“I wish we had more time, obviously our meetings can’t go on forever,” said Papa. “It [Niehoff’s visit] was positive for the future in terms of him coming to more meetings and being more involved.”

According to Papa, Niehoff has showed intent to come to another meeting in the future.