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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014

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OMSAR reorganization promotes student success

Changes projected to save more than $90,000


Since 2009, the Ohio University Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR) has been undergoing a reorganization designed to reduce administrative costs in favor of generating more funding for student programming and services.

OMSAR provides academic and social support services to more than 900 multicultural students and is one of the most important offices in promoting a climate of success for these students. The office supports the Templeton Scholars, Urban Scholars, Appalachian Scholars, and King-Chavez-Parks and OU Incentive Award recipients, in addition to the LINKS transition and retention program.

Vice Provost for Diversity, Access, and Equity Brian Bridges, who was hired at OHIO in 2009, has directed the reorganization of OMSAR. 

"We have an obligation to the multicultural students who choose to attend Ohio University to help them excel in their academic work and their leadership development," Bridges said. "The streamlined structure that will emerge from the reorganization will direct the resources to where they are needed the most."

Working in phases, Bridges has reduced the administrative overhead of the unit in order to restore and enhance academic assistance and opportunities for multicultural students.

Before the start of fall quarter, Bridges said he plans to hire a new OMSAR director who will supervise a group of coordinators charged with retention, recruitment and advising activities. He noted that the director will handle all of the administration of the unit and the coordinators will be exclusively focused on student success and programming.

Bridges said that many of the restructuring decisions were difficult, but that more funding had to be directed to the areas that made the most difference for students. 

"No other positions will be eliminated from the office and I'm confident that the new staff will connect with students in the same way or even more effectively than the former staff did," Bridges said.

Bridges, who helped administer the Center for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the America Council of Education prior to his arrival in Athens, indicated that his planning has taken into account the difficult budget climate facing all units at the institution.

Bridges said the OMSAR reorganization was done while he worked to resolve the department's more than $30,000 budget deficit. When this deficit is taken into account the administrative decisions have saved even more funds. According to Bridges, the changes in personnel structure have already resulted in more than $42,000 in budgetary savings that will be used to support students. He said
total savings could exceed $90,000.

Bridges said planned programming changes made possible by the projected savings include:

  • Reinstating the LINKS Pre-Matriculation program to three days

  • Hiring more peer advisors to provide adequate mentoring support to incoming freshmen

  • Providing more tutoring hours for students in need


Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit indicated that she appreciates the efforts of Bridges and his colleagues to prioritize OMSAR activities, generate savings, and direct resources to critical areas. 

"In many ways, Brian's work with OMSAR is a model for other units across the University," Benoit said. "He has made tough choices but has done so with great care and deliberation. I anticipate seeing good results from the reorganization in the form of strong retention and graduation rates and more opportunities for multicultural students to have rewarding academic experiences at Ohio University."