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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

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University trustees discuss investments, guaranteed tuition


The Ohio University Board of Trustees discussed immediate and long-term strategies to support and enhance the core mission of the University during two days of meetings on the Athens campus.

In a joint meeting of the Academics and Resources committees on Thursday, Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding reviewed the guiding principles driving the creation of the fiscal year 2014 budget. Central among these – including affordability, faculty and staff compensation and investments in the University's physical infrastructure – is the goal of providing students with a transformational academic and residential college experience.  

These key principles played a large role in determining whether and at what level to increase tuition rates. The 1.6 percent increase to instructional and general fees presented to the board demonstrates a balance between controlling the cost of an OHIO education and having enough resources to support strategic priorities, according to Golding.  The board approved the proposed increase on Friday.  

Golding continued by illustrating that a lack of adequate revenue would delay critical investments and burden future generations. He stressed the importance of moving forward with major undertakings like the Capital Improvement and Housing Development plans as well as the University's commitment to investing $100 million in one-time funds into its core mission over the next eight years. 

Scholarships account for $25.4 million of that amount and, in conjunction with money raised by the Promise Lives capital campaign, will help to establish $75 million in new scholarship funds over the next seven years. In addition, a Student Scholarship Task Force will work to increase accessibility and attract high-quality students by ensuring that OHIO has a more competitive and targeted scholarship program.  

The University will use the one-time revenue for endowed professorships, infrastructure and academic, student and community programs as well.   

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit went on to present a guaranteed tuition model, which the trustees have discussed at the past two board meetings, as another way to attract students by providing transparency and predictability in regard to college costs. 

The details of how the model might be put into practice at the University came into sharper focus as a plan for Athens campus undergraduates that would potentially encompass not only tuition, but also room, board and most student fees. Such an all-inclusive plan is not common among other universities in the nation that have implemented this model, but is part of the OHIO model in an effort to give students and their families a more solid idea of the true costs of an OHIO education. 

The model also outlines how to handle transfer students and students who cannot graduate in four years due to approved leaves of absence, disability or the number of credit hours required by a specific program. 

The state legislature will need to pass a law that grants public higher education institutions the opportunity to adopt a guaranteed tuition plan before the University can adopt such a plan.

In other business, the Board approved:

  • A resolution approving $28.1 million to support the Ohio Service Alignment Initiative (OSAI). The OSAI will aid the University in its transition to a Responsibility Centered Management budget model through the creation of a project management office; upgrades to Oracle E-Business, PeopleAdmin and Workforce software systems; and strategic changes to central functions in Human Resources, Finance, Facilities and the Office of Information Technology.
  • A resolution to adopt a combined 1.6 percent increase in instructional and general fees for undergraduate students on the Athens campus and to maintain the Athens campus graduate tuition and fees and nonresident surcharge fees at FY09 rates.
  • A resolution to increase the instructional fee and non-resident surcharge for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) by 5 percent; increase instructional fees by 2 percent for lower division and 0.8 percent for upper division classes on the regional campuses; increase the non-resident surcharge for undergraduate students on the Chillicothe, Lancaster and Zanesville campuses to a rate equivalent to the fees assessed under the quarter system; set tuition and fee rates for the Masters in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Civil Engineering, two new eLearning programs; and increase the program fee for the Masters in Athletic Administration eLearning program by $12.
  • A resolution to approve the proposed fee schedule for student course, technology and miscellaneous fees.
  • A resolution to adopt the proposed fee schedule for room and board fees, which includes a 3.5 percent increase to the standard double room rates and a 0.5 percent increase to board rates.
  • A resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of general receipt bonds in an amount not to exceed $175 million, $122 million of which will fund new campus construction projects including the OU-HCOM Cleveland Campus, renovations to McCracken Hall and Phase II of the Steven L. and Barbara G. Schoonover Center for Communication. 
  • A resolution authorizing the president to create and appoint members to a Ridges Advisory Committee. The committee, which will consist of members from the University as well as Athens city, county and township leaders and citizens, will provide input as part of the process for updating the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for The Ridges.
  • A resolution to allow the University to comply with new bid limits set by the state in regard to public construction projects.
  • A resolution to authorize the receipt of bids for eight capital projects and to allow the University to accept and award construction contracts for the projects.
  • A resolution to name room 112 in the Academic and Research Center on the Athens campus the C. David Snyder Student Collaboration Room.
  • A resolution to accept gifts of land near the Proctorville Center at the University's Southern campus. This property will be used as recreation space for University students and community members and will allow for possible future expansion for other student uses.
  • A resolution to approve the list of University Faculty Fellowships awarded for the 2013-2014 academic year.
  • A resolution to award emeritus/emerita status to a list of recommended individuals upon their retirement.
  • A resolution to establish the Center for Public and Social Innovation in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
  • A resolution appointing Bill Bias to a three-year term on the Kennedy Museum of Art Advisory Board.
  • A resolution setting the dates for next year's Board meetings and retreat.
  • A resolution ratifying the agreement between the University and Local 1699 and Ohio Council 8 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
  • Resolutions to elect Trustee Sandra Anderson as chair and Trustee David Brightbill as vice chair of the Board of Trustees for the upcoming year.
  • A motion to amend the Bylaws.