Many students, faculty, staff and alumni left Wednesday’s ceremony feeling discouraged from news that ultimately did not benefit a majority of the school community.
“[It should have gone] literally anywhere else,” said senior Nicole Font, who is triple majoring in psychology, philosophy and history with a minor in English. “Have you seen Rankin? Or the library? Most of the buildings on this campus haven’t changed since the 60s and probably longer. They literally gave $10 million to the department that needed it the least.”
According to Saint Peter’s University President Eugene Cornacchia Ph.D’s initial email to the campus community, the “historic announcement” will “forever transform” the university. However, only 30 percent of Saint Peter’s students are majoring in business, according to School of Business dean Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D. at the ceremony.
“I just feel as though this announcement did not have to cancel 1 p.m. lectures, close the cafeteria and cause a big fuss,” said Chiara Mercado, a senior biology major. “Personally, I feel like other departments feel a bit neglected and I hope to see some changes for them as well.”
Yasmeen Pauling, a double major in communication and political science with a minor in social justice, said the announcement was just to “stroke a man’s ego so they can continue to get more money.”
“I’m just upset because there are so many departments that are underfunded, buildings on this campus have mold and need to be renovated desperately,” said Pauling. “If they really cared about the legacy of this University, they’d actually invest in the well-being of all students instead of only focusing on sports and the business school.”
Vincent Snyder, who graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, also disagrees with the way the announcement was handled.
“I went there for four years and experienced some pretty demoralizing conditions in the Residence Halls and deteriorating conditions of the classrooms,” he said. “I’m happy someone gave a donation to improve the School of Business … but to hype everyone up and refer to it as transformative for the whole school is disrespectful and indeed tone deaf to the needs of hundreds of other students and teachers with lesser resources.”
Alain Sanders, associate professor of political science, J.D., shares many of his students’ frustrations.
“Any generosity to any part of our university is good news,” he said. “Cancelling courses, for which students have paid, in order to assemble a crowd to applaud benefits given to others, but not to the overwhelming majority of those in the crowd, is a terrible and demoralizing manipulation of people.”
However, not all students are frustrated. George Kourmousis, a senior economics and finance major, said that he “loves” the promise of a more expansive program.
“I love it because the business school finally has a name to go with it,” he said. “Money to expand to a bigger building or make more of it.”
Senior Devin Varela, president of Delta Sigma Pi, the co-ed business fraternity on campus, said that the renaming of the school is a great opportunity for future classes.
“People recognize good business schools by their name,” he said.
Naatus who addressed the crowd at Wednesday’s announcement, feels that while the donation only benefits one academic school, the whole university will be “lifted as well.”
“Our plans involve a variety of interdisciplinary initiatives as well as technology and infrastructure enhancements that will benefit the broader Saint Peter's community,” she said. “You don't come across milestones like this very often and I consider us lucky to witness such an occasion.”
Amidst the controversy, with some students even preparing to take their grievances to Student Government and the Presidential Open Forum, Naatus believes that all students should be proud, no matter their area of study.
“It was a great moment for the Frank J. Guarini School of Business, but an even greater moment for Saint Peter's University,” she said.
But Snyder, who received updates about the event as he was studying at Delaware Law School, believes “an email would’ve sufficed.”