BY GRAHAM O’DWYER
In an email at the beginning of the Spring semester, President Petillo announced that the university has plans to build a parking garage on campus. The proposed parking garage would add another 250 parking spots to a growing university and would be located in the south lot. In his email, Dr. Petillo stated that, “pending approvals and regulations,” the university will move forward with the construction on the garage.
“Right now we’re going through the process. The garage has not been finally approved. We believe we need the garage, and I think students would say that as well,” said Petillo. “But if the town says they can’t do it for A, B, C and D, then there is not much we can do about it. I don’t think they are going to, but until we have a resolution in hand, I’m not going to confirm anything.”
Along with the issue of parking on campus, the President’s email covered a few other topics of concern among the Sacred Heart student body. Housing, campus dining, and communication between students and the university were other topics that Dr. Petillo shed light on.
“We currently have two residence halls under construction, and hopefully have three more approved. Again, pending approval from the town of Fairfield, we are hoping to have 900 beds added to the upper quad in the near future,” said Petillo.
President Petillo’s email was intended to give feedback and updates to students regarding future plans surrounding the university. The topics that were touched upon in the email did not come directly from Dr. Petillo, but rather the students themselves.
The email was based off of a survey put together by a class in the Jack Welch College of Business. Students from Professor Andreassi’s ‘Survey Design and Analysis’ course were the ones behind the creation of the survey.
“I was teaching a class, ‘Survey Design and Analysis’, where students learn how to write survey questions, design a survey, administer the survey, analyze and interpret the results and feed those results back to a client in order to improve an organization. They work with a real client to assess their objectives and design a survey to answer key organizational questions,” said Professor Andreassi.
Shortly after the students got to work on their surveys, Professor Andreassi received an email from Dr. Paliwal, the university Provost. Sent out to faculty members, the email detailed a list of strategic university goals. Professor Andreassi noticed that a few of the topics listed could be achieved through understanding student views.
“He was very much interested and connected a group in my class to their client, Michael Iannazzi, who was part of a University Committee investigating how to improve the student experience,” said Andreassi.
With the help of real clients, such Michael Iannazzi, VP of Marketing and Communications here at SHU, the students in Professor Andreassi’s class were able to create a survey that would be sent out to the entire student body.
“I, along with a few members of our committee, met with the student project leaders several times. We shared with them the kind of information the committee was hoping to receive. Then, the student group came back to us with their thoughts about how to capture meaningful data in this area,” said Iannazzi.
The students, along with their clients, held focus groups with students from the University to uncover key issues. After a semester full of research and survey building, the students showed off their PowerPoint presentations to their clients and the university administration.
“The whole time the survey had the support of senior leadership and Dr. Petillo was the one who sent out the survey itself. The University took the results very seriously and as the students can see, acted upon the voices of the students. It was a very positive experience for both the students and the administration,” said Andreassi.
Communication between students and the university was another key issue brought up in the email. The student created survey is something that the university may look to utilize moving forward to improve communication.
“I think this is a good way to not only get useful data, but to also make it a learning experience for all. I learned a lot from just interacting with the students on the project, even apart from all the data they collected. I was impressed with their knowledge and professionalism throughout the whole experience and I enjoyed working with them very much. I hope to be a steady client,” said Iannazzi.