By Rashed Mian
Another grueling semester at Hofstra is almost over. Seniors are looking forward to their final semester as undergraduates and freshman are ready to experience their first Spring. No doubt, the highest profile event on campus was Debate ’08, which, along with its counterpart Educate ’08, introduced the University to people across the world.
Melissa Connolly, Vice President of University Relations, stated, “The feedback we got was fantastic. What we did with Educate’ 08 was more then what anyone had done.” Connolly has been at the center of all things Hofstra since she became assistant vice president for University Relations in June 2003 and there is nobody better to give us a sneak peak of the future of this University.
With the events of the semester over, there is no better time to look at the future of the University than now. The publicity Hofstra received will undoubtedly lead to more applicants and an increase in the number of students. This wasn’t the first time Hofstra had an event like this. Hofstra has a history of hosting presidential conferences, which takes place five years after the President departs office. President Clinton was here in 2005 and George H.W. Bush was here for 3 days in 1997, walking around campus and speaking to students during his stay. President George W. Bush will be invited in 2013. “That’s one of the things that was attractive [to the Commission on Presidential Debates],” said Connolly.
“You get tremendous visibility [from hosting a debate]. It’s the right kind [of visibility] that shows your students rise to the occasion in the best possible light. It’s the best kind of publicity.” With the great feedback that the University received from the Commission, it looks like Hofstra has a realistic opportunity to host another debate in 2012. “I think we put our best foot forward and that alone counts for a lot,” said Connolly.
One of the main things for students to get excited about is the future medical school, still appending accreditation. Once the University is granted approval, the school will open in 2011 and will temporarily be located at the facility that formerly belonged to the New York Jets. After 2011, it will still take time for the medical school to reach its full potential, but it will be another reason for more students to come to Hofstra.
“We are a relatively young University,” said Connolly. “We were a commuter school for a long time, built the residential program, now we’re about half students outside New York State and about half students inside [New York State.]” Connolly spoke about how when she was here in the 1980’s there were a few residential buildings and there were only a couple of thousand people on campus. Most of the students lived on Long Island and would go home on the weekends, so campus life was non-existent. Over the last six-to-seven years, that has changed; Connolly believes that it has made campus life outside of the classroom stronger. All the students that are around now should be thrilled that they can meet people from all walks of life, and that is an experience not every college is able to offer.
Melissa Connolly calls Hofstra a “University with tremendous movement,” and this allows the University to sponsor many events throughout the year. Connolly sees Hofstra themes for every year from now on. She believes that Educate ‘08 and Debate ‘08 will be the beginning of a tradition that will stay with Hofstra for the near future. These events “spur ideas,” said Connolly, but she doesn’t know what next year’s theme will be. Next year will be the first time President Bush will not be calling the White House home and she sees the theme to have something to do with politics, much like this semester. The one thing you don’t have to worry about is continuing the tradition of rhymes. The two themes this year went well together but you shouldn’t worry about relentless rhymes drilled into your brains when you walk from building to building with signs that blanket the university.
The theme for 2010 will be a little easier to come up with. That year will be the 75th anniversary of Hofstra and there is sure to be plenty of excitement around campus. No events have been scheduled yet and that could be a good thing for students. The university would like to get input from the students and that means you, freshman and sophomores. Your input will be key in celebrating an important year and if you take advantage of this opportunity there will be more events that would appeal to you more than some of the Educate ‘08 events this semester.
Although the turnout for the events was great, many students were complaining that there were too many people from the community and there wasn’t enough room for students. Connolly said, “I would’ve liked more students to be more actively involved.” The events on campus are open to the community outside of Hofstra and that includes many senior citizens. We have all seen them around campus and they might have showed more enthusiasm by just coming to the University than the students who actually live here. So this is your chance to give your input and that will hopefully increase the enthusiasm among students on campus.
The one thing that usually doesn’t increase enthusiasm among students is the horrid word that eats into our parent’s pockets and brings about years of bills that seem to never end. Tuition is definitely a sore subject and while we are sometimes too young to think about it, it will one day affect many students in the future. With the collapse of an economy that seems to be declining as fast as cost of food it is important for students to understand what they will be facing. There are some students that don’t have to worry about it because their parents have saved up for years in advance for the opportunity for their kids to have a great education, but there are others who take out loans every semester.
“We know tuition increases are challenging for people…I don’t look forward to it. Are we going to think about the economy and how it affects people? Absolutely,” said Connolly. According to Connolly the University did find some money to put aside for people in real hardship. In the last seven years, Hofstra has doubled the amount of scholarships that have been made available and has also doubled its fundraising. It’s too late for many seniors but for the first and second year students, you should look into scholarships that many students don’t know about.
We all wonder where our tuition money goes and much of it is put to good use and one important aspect is renovation of many classrooms across campus. All classrooms will eventually be renovated so there will be Internet ready computers or instructional technology to assist instructors. The next five-year plan includes academic areas having their own lounges so people in the same major can hang out.
Much like all businesses, the University is always looking towards the future. The future is important, not just for Hofstra, but to the students as well. So take advantage of what Hofstra offers and enjoy what the campus gives students, because one day you’ll be looking at nine to fives. Days after day and you’ll remember the times you took advantage of all that was in front of you.