Lahey’s lasting legacy

After 31 years as Quinnipiac's president, the university releases "Quinnipiac: The Lahey Years"

By on February 13, 2018

As President John Lahey approaches his retirement on June 30, Quinnipiac University is releasing a book of the school’s entire history, entitled “Quinnipiac: The Lahey Years.”

Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
The book sits in a plain, forest green cover with shimmering gold lettering and pages. On the front there is merely the title, then on the bottom a subtitle, “Transforming a Small Local College into a Major, Nationally Recognized University. On the spine there is a shimmering Quinnipiac “Q”. The book is around 300 pages long and split into three sections, 15 total chapters and three galleries of photos.

While the book covers every year of the university from 1929 to 2017, 14 of the 15 chapters of the book cover the era of President Lahey.

“It’s a history of the entire span of Quinnipiac’s past,” Vice President of Public affairs Lynn Bushnell said. “But [Lahey] has been here for 31 years and certainly the most transformative years have been under his presidency, thus the name (of the book).”

Bushnell went on to explain that the book cumulates about 10 years of research, writing and photography. The original copy of the book was printed in Italy. However, the book will be available for puchase by students soon. Copies will be available in both the student bookstore and the Arnold Bernhard Library. The price of the book has not ben released.

The book provides insight to the first days of Quinnipiac under Lahey, including the foundation of the school’s culture. The book describes Lahey’s determination to build a school around students rather than around a research facility. The idea was to put all the money towards the product of education rather than having to split it between research and students. This philosophy has helped Quinnipiac grow and thrive, according to the book,

When Lahey arrived, the first moves he made included moving the Physical Therapy School from a small “ramshackle house” to a new facility on the Mount Carmel campus. After the School of Health and Sciences was finished, Lahey then commissioned the Echlin Center and the Lender School of Business. Finally, the McMahon Mass Communications Center was completed and Lahey moved to gain national relevance to help grow his school.

““I’m deeply honored to have been a part of Quinnipiac’s history over the past 31 years,” Lahey said in a statement to the Chronicle. “The book chronicles not only my efforts, but those of many people, both past and present. It is their collective work and love for Quinnipiac that the book captures so well. I give special thanks to the writer, Jon Miller, for his extensive research, and to [Bushnell] and Janet Waldman, director of editorial services, who led this project through to a successful conclusion.”

Lahey never stopped planning and growing the school, and as a result has a myriad of achievements. Everyone has a different answer when asked what his biggest achievement is.

Dean of the School of Health Sciences William Kohlhepp believes that the greatest change affecting the university was the founding of the Netter School of Medicine.

“That change built upon the President’s earlier decision to transition Nursing to its own school from its early days as a department in School of Health Sciences,” Kohlhepp said. “Then having put those three schools under one roof in the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, the President made a strong commitment to interprofessional education.”

Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
When you add the coordinating efforts of the Center for Interprofessional Healthcare Education, you have a powerful formula for success, according to Kohlhepp.

“When I talk to prospective students, I point to how well positioned Quinnipiac is for advancing true interprofessional health science education,” Kohlhepp said.

The Quinnipiac Polling Institute started with polling in Connecticut, but then expanded into New York, New Jersey and beyond. Eventually, Quinnipiac grew a reputation for accurate polling all over the country.

“When we do a poll in New York, the results appear not just in major media outlets but in something like 200 newspapers throughout the state,” Lahey said in the book. “The name Quinnipiac is seen and heard in all the towns, big and small, where our students come from.”

As Lahey nears retirement, he is leaving behind his ambitions including growing the medical and engineering schools, more than doubling the endowment from $450 million to $1 billion in time for the school’s 100th birthday in 2029 and to ascend to become one of the top 100 universities in the country, according to the book.

Lahey is continuing to look years into the future even as the end of his presidency draws near. This does not come as a surprise to those close to him. Both the book and his peers describe him as driven and always looking towards the next goal.

Above all, Lahey is a visionary leader, in that he sees things that can be, when others may not, according to Dean of the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine Bruce M. Koeppen.

“The proof of this is clear when you consider how he has transformed Quinnipiac University during his tenure as President,” Koeppen said. “It has been my privilege and honor to serve as the founding dean of the medical school, and to take President Lahey’s vision, and turn it into reality.”

There would be no School of Medicine without President Lahey, according to Koeppen.

“President Lahey’s steadfast support for the school, and for me as its founding dean, has been critical to the successes the medical school has had in its short history,” Koeppen said.

Even though his time as president is coming to an end, Lahey is not done working at Quinnipiac.

“He has said he is going on sabbatical away from Quinnipiac for about a year,” Bushnell said. “So he would leave the university, but he does have the option to return to teach as a (philosophy) professor.”

Regardless, as members of the Quinnipiac community reflect on their past, many expressed excitement for future President Judy Olian’s administration.

The university under President Olian’s leadership must forge a new path to the future, according to Kohlhepp.

“The opportunities that were available to grow the university are no longer possible due to changing demographics, like the shrinking numbers of high school graduates. We must find ways to identify the key benefits that Quinnipiac offers to its students that bring value to the educational experience and that positions our graduates to contribute to society in meaningful careers,” Kohlhepp said. “But, I truly hope that she maintains our focus on the three core values that are the foundation of Quinnipiac University–high-quality academic programs, a student-oriented environment and a strong sense of community.”

Statement from Lahey added on Thursday, Feb. 15.


About Stephen MacLeod