By Adam Schalke
On Feb. 3, Roosevelt University President Ali Malekzadeh gave his first State of the University speech in Ganz Hall. The speech, as Malekzadeh described it himself, “focused on Roosevelt’s past, its present and what will happen in its future.”
Malekzadeh opened his speech by cracking jokes about Chicago’s weather, then soon moved on to recognizing Roosevelt’s history of social justice in academia. He praised the success of several of the university’s faculty and alumni, some of whom have written successful books, performed in major musical productions and those who went on to become part of Roosevelt’s administration.
Malekzadeh discussed his current goals for the university, which included an immediate restoration in the Schaumburg campus (whose programs were cut by former President Charles Middleton), expanding parental leave for faculty and increasing the university’s freshman application and retention rates.
Malekzadeh unveiled his long term plans for Roosevelt, some of which included expanding the university’s study abroad programs and a full reinvestment of the Schaumburg campus so that all majors may be taken either there or in Chicago.
Most audience members seemed pleased with Malekzadeh’s speech, and some felt confident about the university’s future.
Mickey Brazeal, a professor of integrated marketing communications at RU, expressed support and confidence in Malekzadeh’s plans, particularly the ones regarding the Schaumburg campus and the study abroad programs.
“From a business standpoint, we made a mistake in pulling out of Schaumburg,” Brazeal said. “That campus heavily served former community college students, who make up a large part of the IMC program here. There’s an abundance of students in that area that Roosevelt could service.”
Brazeal also spoke highly of the President’s call for expanded study abroad programs.
“That’s something that particularly struck my attention. I definitely think that international exposure contributes to education. If you’re around people who don’t necessarily look like you, you have the potential to be exposed to new ideas and new perspectives,” he said.
Prior to ending his speech, Malekzadeh made an impassioned call for the audience to contact Governor Bruce Rauner and ask that he approve MAP grant funding for Illinois students, saying that it “upsets [him] personally” to see students who have to turn away a college education due to lack of funding.