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Ohio University Board of Trustees approves budget realignment plans

ATHENS, Ohio (March 2, 2006) -- Ohio University's Board of Trustees met March 1 to 2 at the Ohio University Lancaster Campus and approved several university business initiatives and heard updates on the latest developments.

The primary item of discussion was the university's budget realignment plan. Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said the first reason for the budget realignment plan is to reduce the University's deficit. The second reason for the plan is to provide funding for reinvestment and reallocations to areas crucial to strategic priorities and areas for potential revenue generation. The implementation of Vision OHIO requires the identification of funds to support strategic investments and institutional priorities and strategic investments in key areas including undergraduate education, graduate education, research priorities, and faculty lines. Strategies to identify sources of reinvestment funds are based on the conceptual analysis of programs and services central to Vision OHIO and functional analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of these programs and services.

The university plans to reduce its budget by $18.6 million for fiscal year 2007 in order to avoid annually increasing budget cuts. President McDavis said the university-wide realignment plan would provide approximately $9.2 million in revenues to reinvest in the academic priorities of Vision OHIO, the university's new strategic plan.

During the last several months, the executive administration has been meeting with the leaders of constituent groups on campus to gather ideas and suggestions. A final budget realignment plan will be announced in the near future.

The board approved the change in the name of the Office for Regional Higher Education to the Office for University Outreach and Regional Campuses. The change was necessary after the creation of the Office for University Outreach. Merle Graybill, former associate vice president for student affairs, is the new director of the Office for University Outreach. She began her duties on March 1. The office was created to assist individuals and organizations with developing partnerships that support research and create links across Appalachia in the areas of public education, economic development and health issues.

In one of the first steps toward budget realignment, the board approved the offering of a voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) beginning April 1, 2006 and ending Aug. 31, 2007. Under the voluntary ERIP, eligible employees will receive no more than one year of Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) service credit and can retire early or with a larger retirement benefit. The university will offer a cash incentive to employees who retire and vacate their position before July 1, 2006. ERIP participants must retire within 90 days of notification that their service credit has been registered with OPERS.

A total of 308 employees are eligible to participate in the ERIP. Eligible employees electing the OPERS ERIP can be re-hired only on a term appointment basis of no longer than one year at a reduced salary. Re-hired employees are ineligible to receive an incentive bonus. The Position Review Committee will determine the filling of any ERIP position, bearing in mind the programmatic needs of the university and the support of the budgetary realignment plan.

In other business, the board approved:

  • The appointment of Linda F. Brown, Larry A. Gates and Sandra Rudawsky to the Coordinating Council at Ohio University's Chillicothe Campus. Brown is the president of Globe Furniture of Chillicothe Inc. Gates is a former senior vice president for human resources for Philip Morris International Inc., who created the Gates Foundation in conjunction with Ohio University since returning to Chillicothe. The foundation provides scholarships to Ross County students to attend college. Rudawsky is a corporate senior vice president and chief operating officer at Berger Health System in Circleville, Ohio. She is a registered nurse who partnered with Ohio University to develop a unique nursing education model.
  • The appointment of Ohio University Board of Trustees members R. Gregory Browning and Norman E. "Ned" Dewire to the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees beginning March 2, 2006. Browning's term ends May 13, 2007, while Dewire's term ends May 13, 2008.
  • Hiring of consultants to work on the Baker Center Rehabilitation Project for consolidation and expansion of the College of Communication and the upgrading and expanding of the Clippinger Hall laboratory facilities.
  • Construction documents for the Alden Library Masonry Improvements Project, Lausche Heating Plant Bag House Expansion Project, Lin Hall Second Floor Renovation Project, new residence hall site and foundation package, Peden Stadium Fifth Floor Renovation Project, and Roadway and Parking Improvement Project at the Chillicothe Campus.
  • The naming of a new pond at The Ridges, The Peter E. Nagy Memorial Pond. Nagy is a former Ohio University student from Athens who died prematurely because of mental illness.
  • The adoption of an amendment to the university's Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). The amendment was needed due to Substitute Senate Bill 133, which required changes to four sections of the ARP on Aug. 1, 2005.
  • The name change of the Department of Chemical Engineering to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
  • A new Sales Certificate in Financial Services to be offered by the College of Business' Sales Centre.
  • The offering of undergraduate and graduate certificates in Geographic Information Sciences by the Department of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • The offering of a doctor of philosophy degree by the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
  • Instructional, general and non-resident fee schedules for the 2006-07 Current Funds Budget.
  • 2006-07 schedule of fees for the Residence and Dining Hall Auxiliary.

The board heard informational reports on the budget, the Capital Improvements Plan for fiscal years 2007-12 and the campus master plan. It also heard a presentation on the debt capacity, debt policy and Senate Bill 6 Ratio review.

The board heard an informational update on the Center for Student Legal Services (CSLS). The Center for Student Legal Services is a prepaid legal insurance program for Ohio University students. The two attorneys who staff the center, Patrick McGee and Melissa Luna, counsel an average of eight students each day.

During his report to the board, McDavis presented an update on current enrollment figures, personal and civic responsibility initiatives, the implementation of Vision OHIO and executive position searches. McDavis also discussed the budget realignment plan, voluntary ERIP and cycle of annual budget cuts. He also discussed the completion of the campus master plan and acknowledged that the university has produced a school-record 15 Fulbright U.S. Student Program finalists for the 2006-07 academic year and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics recorded one of the top graduation rates in a recent report by the National Collegiate Athletics Association.

Provost Kathy Krendl gave a report on fall to winter quarter enrollment figures, an update on projected admissions for fall quarter 2006, an overview of activities related to the First-Year Experience and a report on the Vision OHIO Convocation which took place on Jan. 17.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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