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Ohio University addresses its future at Board of Trustees meeting in Zanesville

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 18, 2005) -- Ohio University addressed its future at the Feb. 18 Board of Trustees meeting on the university's Zanesville campus.

President Roderick McDavis informed the board that the university is considering increasing enrollment for next fall. He said increased enrollment would result in increased tuition revenue and state subsidies in the future, due to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft's recent decision to link state subsidies for public universities to enrollment numbers over the next biennium.

Of Taft's $10.7 million in proposed cuts to four-year state universities for 2005-06, Ohio University would receive more than $5 million of that total because of slight declines in undergraduate and graduate enrollments and retention rates.

In the last two years, Ohio University's total enrollment (all campuses and continuing education) decreased by 479 students, from a total of 28,992 students in fall 2002 to 28,513 in fall 2004.

McDavis also told the board the university plans to increase tuition by at least 6 percent for the 2005-06 academic year. That would translate into each student paying an additional $155 per quarter. A similar percentage of increase is likely for the following year.

In other business, the board approved the hiring of a consultant to prepare a master plan for the Athens campus. The master plan, which hasn't been updated since 1996, will enable the university to focus its resources to meet future demands on its facilities in a way that will best meet the university's goals and objectives as defined in the strategic plan.

The board also approved the awarding of a contract for an 8,900-square-foot addition to Elson Hall at the Zanesville campus. The Elson Hall addition will add classrooms that are needed because of increased enrollment at the Zanesville campus. Total cost of the project is approximately $2.1 million, which will be funded from Senate Bill 189 and an anticipated $1 million from the fiscal year 2005-06 Capital Bill.

The board also granted the university permission to enter into a 30-year lease with Wesam Construction of Chester, Ohio, to renovate and manage the Mill Street Apartments in Athens.

Wesam has agreed to spend approximately $6 million to renovate the complex and will lease the property for 30 years. It will make annual fixed payments to the university based on a schedule that ramps up from $70,000 in fiscal 2008 to $125,000 in fiscal 2015. After fiscal year 2015, annual increases will be based on the Consumer Price Index (estimated at 5 percent). In addition, Wesam will pay the university 10 percent of net operating income during the term of the lease, will make an initial payment of $300,000 to the university and extend Ohio University's electric service to the property at an estimated cost of $185,000. Wesam will also pay the university a local government support payment in lieu of real estate taxes, which the university will forward to local government entities.

"We are pleased to arrive at this arrangement, which will renovate and restore the Mill Street Apartments to provide quality housing for Ohio University students," said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. "The fact that Wesam is a local company is a plus in providing a boost for the regional economy. This has been a very thoughtful process as we determined what would be the best course for this apartment complex, the university students and the community."

The apartment complex was opened in 1969 and currently has 10 buildings with approximately 150 units. Renovations are scheduled to begin within three months of the lease finalization. Some townhouse units will be available by fall 2005, but some of the units in the high-rise building may not be available until fall 2006.

The board was presented updates on the Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP) and health care.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Larry Corrigan said 192 employees opted for ERIP between May 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004. Costs associated with the program totaled $9.9 million and annual savings will amount to $5.7 million, resulting in a payback period of 1.75 years.

The board was presented with a health benefits proposal for fiscal year 2006. The proposal states that employee premiums will not increase and prescription drug co-pays will increase across the board (generic, brand-formulary and brand-non formulary). Corrigan explained that steady state employee premiums and prescription co-pay increases will result in a transfer of costs from the university to the employees of $990,000. These health care changes will be guaranteed for no more than one year.

In addition, the university plans to issue a request for proposals and select a health care industry expert to project costs based on a transparent set of assumptions specific to its market and usage. If there are surpluses in the future, the employee portion will be returned to employees in proportion to their share of premiums paid through a premium waiver. The university portion of any surpluses will be held in reserve and used to offset future health care cost increases. Shortfalls will be covered by reserves in the year the shortfall occurs. Any previous year shortfalls will be recovered through premium increases up to the stated employee share.

Prior to June 30, 2005, eligible employees will receive a refund of their share of the previous years' surpluses, currently held in reserve. The amount of the refund will be approximately $530,000.

In other action:

  • The board granted approval to hire a consulting architect and to develop construction drawings for an addition to the life science research facility. The 3,500-square-foot animal holding facility will contain offices and several holding rooms for aquatic species. Total price of the project is projected to be $1 million. The construction project, which should be finished within 10 to 18 months, would be financed with research initiative funds and construction would begin in May.

  • The board officially established the Ohio University Research and Enterprise Park, the site on West State Street that has been redeveloped to house the Innovation Center, Diagnostic Hybrids Inc. and the Biotech/Chemistry facility. The approximately 10 acres of undeveloped land at the site will be made available for lease to knowledge-based businesses to help drive regional economic development and foster research-related activities with Ohio University faculty members.

  • The Regional Energy and Environmental Institute's name was changed to the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment. The new name more accurately reflects the mission of the institute and more accurately acknowledges the regional nature of the work of the institute, which is located in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

  • The board passed a resolution to name the studio theatre space in Putnam Hall, room 134, The Shirley Wimmer Dance Theatre. Wimmer established the School of Dance in 1969 and remained its founding director until her retirement in 1982.

  • Douglas A. Moorman was appointed to a nine-year term on the Coordinating Council of the Ohio University Chillicothe Campus and Denise D. Callihan was appointed to a five-year term on the Coordinating Council of the Ohio University Lancaster Campus. Moorman is director of the Chillicothe Veterans Administration Medical Center and has served more than 34 years in the U.S. Army. Callihan has 26 years of experience in education and was named superintendent of Lancaster City Schools last August.

  • Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Sostarich presented an update on the university's approach to address the problem of high risk drinking among college students. Since 1996, CARDD (Coalition Advocating Responsible Drinking Decisions), a coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members has developed strategies to change the campus culture. Strategies include law enforcement, discipline, education, community relations, social marketing, academic relations, treatment and alternative programming. This fall, all first-year students were required to complete "AlcoholEdu for College," a Web-delivered alcohol education course.

  • The board accepted the regular seven-year review for the School of Film. Among some of the school's noted strengths are a national reputation, successful alumni, a revised curriculum, overall faculty diversity and excellence and the ability to compete for talented students.

  • The board accepted the internal five-year reviews of the Center of International Business Education and Development and the Institute for the African Child, both of which were recommended for continuance. The international business center manages the international effort of the College of Business and provides a focal point for business-related international initiatives. The Institute for the African Child promotes research, teaching and service that consider children in the process of the African continent's socio-economic development.

  • The board accepted revisions to the university's Internal Audit Charter that address the audit's role, authority, responsibility, scope and accountability.

  • The board accepted the Treasurer's Report, which showed the fiscal year 2005 composite return as of Dec. 31, 2004, was 6.76 percent, compared with the benchmark return of 6.99 percent.

  • Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Thomas Boeh presented the department's current and future usage of the budget enhancement funds it receives from the university, new department fundraising initiatives and construction plans for future Peden Stadium enhancements, which include new football meeting rooms and a relocation of the athletics training room.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, office (740) 597-1793 or pager (740) 290-4479

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