On the Record with President John DeGioia

September 3, 2009

University President John DeGioia sat down with reporters this Tuesday to discuss the 2010 Campus Plan, expanding wireless Internet, the future of the science center, and more. Interview transcribed, edited, and condensed by Juliana Brint.

Can you make a commitment to students to not further extend GUTS bus routes in the 2010 Campus Plan? And if not, what would you say to students who feel that the University is not defending their best interests?

Are we tweetering?

No, not right now, no…

Just kidding. I couldn’t make any commitment in the context of an interview with a newspaper, but I could say the issue of the 2010 plan is a very complex negotiation … We recognize how sensitive a topic this is for the neighbors, and we’re trying to figure out how can we come up with the most appropriate accommodation that enables us to acknowledge their legitimate concerns and our legitimate needs. And that’s what we’re wrestling with right now. It will be an ongoing conversation and discussion with our neighbors over the course of the coming months.

What do you say to students who feel limited by the lack of wireless Internet?

The wireless issue is a tough one, and that’s simply a question of prioritization of our IT needs. And again, if we had more financial resources, we would go deeper into our priorities. I think anyone who sat down with [Vice President of UIS] David Lambert and [Senior Vice President] Spiros Dimolitsas and went through the priorities, they usually come back saying, “Yeah, I guess if I were in their shoes, those would be my priorities, too.”
[T]his summer we moved our data center, which is sort of the heart and soul of the whole operation, we moved that to an off-site location … And that I think was the highest priority. I think there are issues related to our Banner system that guides grading, and your transcripts and all that kind of stuff. That’s in a sensitive place.

With the economy starting to recover, are there any new plans or timelines for the construction of the new Science Center?

The timeline is really driven by finance … [T]he best indication that we are going to build that building is the fact that [infrastructure] work is going on, because we wouldn’t be doing that work if we weren’t going to be building that building … We just need to raise more money. We’re out talking with people and we’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to raise some more philanthropic dollars for the program.
We did submit a significant request through the stimulus bill. The stimulus bill made opportunities available for schools that have shovel-ready projects. We’re shovel-ready—the shovels are already working … If that goes through, that will be very helpful.

When there was a series of vandalism incidents during the spring semester, there was a very vocal response from the administration.  There were several emails sent out condemning the actions, I believe you had a meeting with students about it.

The response has been significant, as intense, as engaged. They’re different categories of activity.  The vandalism was specific to an individual’s ethnic/racial identity. The assaults … require a different kind of response from us.  So, we have had lots of education sessions and interventions on issues to        personal safety, public safety, I think appropriate to that category of challenge.

For the full transcript of our conversation with DeGioia, check out the Voice’s blog, Vox Populi, at

Photography by Lexie Herman

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