By Carlo Valladares
When Dr. Kimberly R. Cline took office on July 1, 2013, she became LIU Post’s 10th president, as well as the first woman to hold the position. She came into her presidency overseeing a school that was combating low enrollment, and one that was featured in an Aug. 2013, Forbes magazine article, titled, “Is Your College Going Broke? The Most and Least Financially Fit Schools In America.”
The 2013 article claimed that LIU had been running at an operating deficit for the last three years. Cline stressed that the ongoing changes are meant to create a better collegiate experience for students. “We want to focus on making sure that we’re providing a student-centered university, where students are first in our minds all the time,” Cline stated during the July 31 interview.
One way Cline has tried to improve the university is by expanding the correlation between what students learn in the classroom in relation to what they will experience in the real world.
“The student run businesses that we started last year are an effort to marry up all the base that happens in the classroom, to real life work experience,” Cline said. “If we have more student-run businesses on campus, [students] can actually participate in the development of a business, they can help run the business, and they have something on their resume that other people don’t have.”
This new experiment in student entrepreneurship started on Nov. 12, 2013, with the opening of The Student Body Boutique, a clothing store on the second floor of Hillwood Commons. It was the first student-run business on any LIU campus.
The Post Treat Shoppe, which sells baked goods and candy, is another student-run business that opened on the first floor of Hillwood on Jan. 29, 2014. The End Zone, a non-alcoholic sports bar that sells pub style food, was also added to the first floor of the Commons, becoming the third student-run business on campus. The End Zone’s grand opening was held on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
Cline said that additional businesses are in the works for the upcoming 2014-2015 academic year. “We’re going to open a high-tech store that is going to be sanctioned by Apple. It is going to be a working laboratory, so if you have an issue with your computer, [or] if you want to ask [a] question, you can go in and they’ll be right there. ” The new tech store will replace The Head Quarters computer lab, which was located on the second floor of Hillwood Commons near the Steinberg Art Museum.
Cline stated that Bethpage Federal Credit Union is opening a bank on the second floor of Hillwood as well, replacing the Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union (NEFCU). “They’re going to hire students, and if the [students] do well they [can become] future managers and employees of the bank,” Cline said.
The opening of a BFCU branch on campus is part of a larger deal between the university and the bank. On March 19, 2014, LIU Post announced the credit union’s corporate sponsorship to the tune of $1.5 million for the naming rights to Post’s renovated football stadium. The new stadium opened this past weekend on Saturday, September 6.
Despite the many changes in operations and personnel made during her first year in office, Cline hopes to accomplish a lot more during the upcoming year. “We want to start a PR marketing firm, and we want to start a student incubator firm that focuses on high-tech companies [and] app development.” Dr. Cline believes high-tech development initiatives should become an essential part of LIU’s academia.
Cline’s vision is a work in progress, and she feels her first year in office has been a productive one. “I think we accomplished a great deal. Just having the community come together and work on a strategic plan that’s going to chart our vision for 2020 is really important,” Cline said. “When we’re talking about who we want to be, I think we want to make sure that we’re providing great value for our students, we want to make sure that we are providing an excellent education, and we want to try to keep ourselves affordable.”