Students object to Dean’s List benefit cuts, create petition

On May 1, Daemen College announced that the College earned National Best Value School Designation. Three days later, the College announced there will no longer be a tuition benefit associated with Dean’s List status.
Students took action out against the retractions.  Political science major Brianna Zichettella organized a petition and statement for students.
“The announcement was given after those who qualified had already registered for classes with the expectation that they would be able to apply benefits earned in Spring 2017 to their Summer and Fall courses. This sudden change was made in a way that places an undue financial and scheduling burden on the Daemen Student community. If you would like to voice your dissent, there is a petition going around campus. Please consider signing or providing a testimonial about how Dean’s List benefits have or would have helped you in your academic progress at this institution,” Zichettella wrote to students.
Within the first day, 230 students had pledged their support for the petition.
Ricardo Luciano signs his name to the student petition. Photo Credit: Kelly Ferreira


Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Brogan emailed a letter describing the circumstances to the student community.
“I am writing to inform you of an important change in Daemen’s Dean’s List policy. Effective with the Spring 2017 semester, there will no longer be a tuition benefit associated with Dean’s List status. This includes the ability to add a fall or spring course at no extra charge beyond the full-time tuition charge, or alternatively, to use the benefit for a 50 percent discount on a summer or inter-semester course,” he wrote.
According to the letter, “this decision was not made lightly and only after weighing the many important factors that go into providing the high quality and cost-effective education that Daemen students expect and deserve. This includes, as upper division students will remember, the decision just two years ago to stretch everyone’s tuition dollar by raising the ceiling on our full-time tuition charge to cover 18 instead of 17 credit hours.”
Brogan also noted that this benefit was “unique,” as most other higher education institutions do not offer tuition assistance with their Dean’s List recognition.
During the fall semester of 2016 over 700 Daemen College student made the Dean’s List.  A matriculated undergraduate student who attains a grade point average of 3.30 or better in any one semester is eligible for Dean’s List status.
“Timing for an announcement like this is never good.  Consideration to cut the Dean’s list benefit was part of the budget planning in March for this fiscal year,” Brogan said.
Ashley Giaquinto, Health Promotion/Athletic Major, transferred to the school this spring and is on track to make the Dean’s list.
“I have to take a summer course because of my major.  I was planning on using this benefit, now I have to pay more out of pocket.  I had already registered for class before the announcement.  This could effect when I graduate.  Now I have to look at other schools because they are more affordable for me,” said Giaquinto.
Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, also voiced great displeasure at the announcement and wrote a letter to Brogan.
“I am disappointed that I ever wanted to call myself a Wildcat, and disappointed that I thought my dream college had more to offer,” the student wrote.
The student had decided to leave Daemen due to the costs, and a combination of the Excelsior Scholarship program and this announcement “sealed the deal.”
According to the student, Daemen is sacrificing academics in exchange for athletics and other spending. The letter written to Brogan mentioned President Olson and the use of the limo for the NCAA speaker.
“I just found it funny how they announce the soccer field renovations and the addition of a men’s volleyball team the day after they cut academic funding. To me, it seems like there is much more importance on athletics than academics. Also, I want to state that I did see the President of Daemen come in and out of the limo, not the NCAA president because I’ve had many people try to tell me I was confused. I surely wasn’t,” the student said.
Several students questioned as to why the changes were made and Brogan was available for a statement.
“When considering to cut the Dean’s list benefit, there are many reasons.  Daemen College is a tuition driven school where every dollar goes towards the curriculum, we are always looking at cost, there is a concern on how the Excelsior tuition plan will effect tuition, we found taking 21 credit hours in a semester is not a good practice and it puts additional stress on our students, and we must be economically feasible.   Only 61 students took advantage of this benefit last semester,” according to Brogan.
Daemen College was University Research and Review as a 2017 Best Value School award recipient, making it one of fewer than 100 institutions across the country selected to receive this prestigious national designation. Selection for the Best Value School award is based on the variety and quality of programs offered, student satisfaction with the institution, accreditation, and cost.
“Our committee prides itself on combining our extensive experience, knowledge of postsecondary education, and insight into what provides students with good value when selecting a Best Value School award recipient,” said Joseph Schmooze, founder of University Research and Review, a company dedicated to improving the process of how a student selects a postsecondary school.
Cost- is a school affordable and in-line with similar schools?
Do students like, support and recommend the school?
What’s unique about the institution?
Are students overloaded with debt?
What’s the student loan default rate?
How long does it take students to graduate?
What percentage of enrollees get a degree or credential?
This original set of criteria produced a list of over 1,000 schools for consideration.  Then assessed each institution against a series of carefully chosen indicators. These were as follows:
Net price (weighted 20 percent), retention rate (weighted 30 percent), graduation rate (weighted 30 percent) and class size (weighted 20 percent).  Giving each college a total score out of 200. Daemen College ranked 14 in the nation for small colleges with a score of 138.47.
“I am proud at how our students are challenging and taking action.  They have conducted themselves professionally in a courteously, politely and respectful manner.  My door is open to talk to all students to hear their concerns.  Daemen College is always open to improving and providing opportunities,” said Brogan.
Dean’s list policy
Enhanced Tuition Award
On May 12, Brogan sent another letter to the student body giving new information concerning the benefits. According to Brogan, students that made Dean’s List this semester can use the tuition benefits during the summer semester. After that session is completed, the benefits will no longer be allotted to Dean’s List recipients.

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