Open Forum with the President Kaplan and University Vice Presidents


An open forum was hosted by President Steven Kaplan and university vice presidents on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Alumni Lounge. Students had the opportunity to ask Kaplan anything they wanted, and get answers first hand from not only the president, but also from those who run the correlating department on campus. Kaplan joked about students not asking about parking, but he ended up addressing the issue during the forum.

“The main goal is to hear from you as opposed to you hearing from us,” Kaplan said.“The point of meeting with you today and the point of all the meetings I have with students is to hear how we can help you succeed even more than we are now.”

Kaplan is currently in his 14th year as president of the university. When he first started his term, he met up with students to get insight and he received many complaints. He added that the university is continuing to expanded upon things to do for students, upgrading facilities, adding parking, and more housing. Projects will be added for new housing along Allentown by Atwood in the next two to three years. Facilities are also important and as Kaplan stated the university has spent over $250 million since he started his role as president. One thing Kaplan also mentioned is that there is endless improvement that can be done.

“There are a lot of things that were not here then but are here now,” Kaplan said in regards to how things have improved since starting his job in 2004.

A student asked if the university was planning on expanding majors for those who are not science majors and she felt as if the university looked past theatre majors.

Kaplan mentioned that he is the biggest advocate for the theatre program and that it has grown tremendously since 2004. He added that they want to build a black box theatre. Provost Daniel May added about the university’s new tv studio as well as a new entrepreneurship program.

Another student asked the dreaded question about the university and keeping Sodexo. Kaplan used the analogy explaining how he is married to his wife, but the school isn’t married to Sodexo. Both Kaplan and Ron Quagliani, liaison who oversees the dining program, know the negative issues that have been and continue to be brought up about Sodexo.

“If it doesn’t improve at some point, we will have to end the relationship,” said Kaplan about the university’s relationship with Sodexo.  

One thing both Quagliani and Kaplan stressed is the importance of hearing from students about the issues. Hearing people’s comments is what has helped them so far. Kaplan put it best when he said that students need to use their power to tell him what the university can approve upon.

After the Sodexo conversation, the other equally dreaded question of parking came up.

“We can’t break ground on this building [the innovation center] until we find replacement parking,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan also added that if the university were to build a parking garage it would cost $20,000 to $30,000 PER parking space.

Another student mentioned the racial issue in residence halls. Dean Johnson said that when incidents occur in the residence halls it is important to fill out a bias report. Those reports are then given to her and Dean Baker.

Someone else asked about the lack of diversity in the staff and if the university expects to see improvement. May mentioned that this is something the university takes very seriously. Kaplan also added that he thinks the university is under represented in certain areas.

Kaplan thanked everyone who came out and asked questions and students got answers to the questions they have been wanting to ask.