ATHENS, Ohio (April 14, 2006) -- Ohio University's Board of Trustees met April 13-14 in Athens and approved several university business and academic initiatives and was updated on the university's latest developments.
One of the most significant agenda items was the approval of the renaming of the university's College of Communication to the Scripps College of Communication. On April 4, The E.W. Scripps Company and the Scripps Howard Foundation announced a gift of $15 million to the college to support a variety of programs and initiatives. The gift raises the total that the Scripps Howard Foundation has committed to Ohio University to more than $20 million.
The E.W. Scripps Company, which began in 1962 and is based in Cincinnati, is involved in cable networks, newspaper publishing, broadcast television, electronic commerce, interactive media, and licensing and syndication. On Sept. 12, Ohio University will host an all-day event on its Athens campus to celebrate the gift and the renaming of the college.
"The generosity of the Scripps Howard Foundation and The E.W. Scripps Company, which are longtime friends of the university, is a transformational gift for our College of Communication," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. "Together, we have the opportunity to lift our College of Communication to its highest level of excellence."
The board also approved construction documents and authorized the university to advertise, receive bids and award contracts for six projects. The projects are: Clippinger Hall Masonry Improvements ($280,000), Lausche Heating Plant Coal and Ash Handling Improvements ($1,250,000), East Green Storm Sewer Improvements ($800,000), New Residence Hall Building Completion Package ($22,600,000), Gordon K. Bush Airport Sanitary Sewer Extension ($315,000), and Gordon K. Bush Airport Taxiway C Rehabilitation ($150,000).
Four of the six projects are on the Athens campus and the other two are at the university's airport in Albany, Ohio. The biggest project is the new residence hall, which will be located near Nelson Commons and provide 350 beds for students living on campus. The construction will be completed in two phases. The first phase is the site/foundation project, which recently started after being approved at the March Board of Trustees meeting. The second phase is the completion of the building, which is scheduled for August 2007. The estimated cost of the total project is $24 million.
In other business, the board approved:
- Faculty emeritus/emerita awards for 2006 to 11 professors who have rendered dedicated and outstanding service to Ohio University. The 11 professors have a combined 312 years of service at the university.
- A sales certificate in sports management. The certificate is the fifth offered through The Sales Centre and is available to students from all majors. To receive the certificate, students must complete a 28-credit hour cross-disciplinary curriculum and complete a 300-hour internship. Sales certificates are already offered in professional sales, retail focus, media focus and financial services.
- Faculty fellowship awards. These 40 awards will provide faculty members at least a one-quarter reprieve from their teaching duties to pursue professional development and research initiatives beginning in the 2007-08 academic year.
- Appointment of Vice President for Finance and Administration William R. Decatur as treasurer at Ohio University for a term beginning April 14, 2006 and ending June 30, 2007.
In other business, the board heard reports on:
- A change in the Third Party Administration for Health Care. Beginning July 1, Ohio University will use Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and EnvisionRx Options to administer its health benefits package. The change was made after the university issued a request for proposals for the administration of its benefits package in December 2005. The university received 13 proposals, but selected Anthem because of its strong Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), solid service and strong reputation in Ohio. Envision Rx Options provided the best overall bid regarding drug plan administration and matched the current formulary plan design. The university's Health Benefits Committee endorsed the process and selection of both vendors.
- Reviews for the bachelor of specialized studies and associate in individualized studies majors, industrial technology, travel and tourism, equine studies and human service technology. Every academic program at the university must be reviewed every seven years.
- Investment performance. The report revealed a 9.39 percent composite return as of Feb. 28, 2006, for the portfolio. The return was below the benchmark return rate of 10.49 percent due to underperformance in two of the three small cap funds.
- The First-Year Experience Task Force.
- A presentation by a Deloitte representative on the audit scope for the Fiscal 2006 audit.
- A presentation by a New England Pensions Consultants (NEPC) representative on asset allocation strategy.
- The Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP).
- An internal audit performed by Ohio University's Internal Audit Office.
The board also heard a report by President McDavis, who talked about several important university initiatives. He provided an update to the board on the new health benefits provider, the progress of the recruitment of the university's second class for the Urban Scholars Program and the inaugural class for the Appalachian Scholars Program. More than 350 people have attended the five informational sessions about the Appalachian Scholars program, which will award 10 scholarships to students on five of its campuses for the 2006-07 academic year.
McDavis also reviewed the recently announced initiatives, Complete to Compete and the Go Mobile program. Complete to Compete is a new partnership between Ohio University and Kent State University that will allow students to complete degrees at any of the universities' combined 14 campuses. He said the two universities already serve about 20,000 students each term on their regional campuses, in addition to the more than 40,000 students on the residential campuses in Kent and Athens. He said studies show that more than 450,000 people in 33 counties could take initial advantage of this project in these underserved populations.
"Our universities are the first in the state to link outreach and regional campuses at this level – as presidential initiatives with the express intent to expand the availability of academic programs to meet the needs of the state," McDavis said. "By expanding our regional outreach and economic development efforts, we are complementing other initiatives in place at our universities to support the mission of extending learning opportunities to underserved populations and remaining a center of learning in our regions."
Go Mobile is a new laptop purchasing initiative that will help students take advantage of 100 percent wireless Internet coverage on all six Ohio University campuses. The initiative will offer all students on all campuses the opportunity to buy high-quality laptop computers at substantial discounts beginning in May. Go Mobile is voluntary and designed to complement the university's existing residence hall desktop computer program.
McDavis also provided an update on the university's personal and civic responsibility initiatives and the campus master plan.
Provost Kathy Krendl provided a summary of first year experience activities to improve student retention, an update on fall 2006 enrollment, and an update on recent and upcoming activities related to the strategic planning process. She summarized discussions with community members, which called for increased collaboration and engagement between the university and the region. Discussions with faculty identified opportunities and challenges in creating integrated faculty development resources in teaching and research, as well as a need for mentoring programs, instructional technology training, and opportunities for mid-career development.
The meeting concluded with the board thanking Student Trustee Aslyne Rodriguez and Alumni Representative Susan J. Ackerman for their service. It was the last meeting for both.
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