Vision OHIO projects gain momentum
One-time allotment supports research and teaching efforts across campus
ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 30, 2007) -- It may be winter, but seeds that Ohio University planted last year are growing all around campus. Last January, under the guidance of Provost Kathy Krendl, Ohio University announced the release of $1.5 million to academic planning units for programs and initiatives that support the goals of Vision OHIO, the strategic plan.
The appropriations (which were one-time funds -- different from base monies, which continue annually) were meant to help academic areas jump-start initiatives that they described in their individual strategic plans. Each college plus University Libraries received $200,000 to $400,000, based on its number of faculty and students. Before receiving any funds, each academic planning unit submitted a proposal detailing how it would spend the money and ideas for measuring the initiatives' success later on. The result of that process gave faculty and staff across campus an opportunity to develop projects that are aligned with the university's strategic plan and link to its historical commitment to teaching and research.
The academic units took on an assortment of projects that range from the development of new online courses in the School of Human and Consumer Sciences and the targeted recruitment of international or out of state students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and Honors Tutorial College. Another example is a collaboration between University College and the College of Arts and Sciences on a first-year retention program that, among other things, places students who struggle academically in their first quarter in a workshop that helps refine academic goals.
A quick look around campus reveals a multitude of additional interesting new projects. Here's a sampling:
- Ohio University faculty soon will have a Faculty Commons, supported in part by these funds. Located on the third floor of Alden Library and spanning 8,000 square feet, it will give faculty resources they need to become better teachers and researchers, says Dean of University Libraries Julia Zimmerman. Faculty focus groups are currently helping to hammer out the details, and construction is expected to begin spring quarter for a fall 2007 opening.
Situated where the Health Sciences Library is now, the new area will include a large informal meeting area, conference rooms and a teaching demonstration room. The space also will give a more noticeable campus presence to the centers for Writing Excellence, Teaching Excellence and Academic Technology, which currently reside in the lower level of Scott Quad.
"It just seems like the perfect place," Tim Vickers, the assistant director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, says of the planned move to the commons. "Faculty will already be in the library to do their research. And right there will be support for teaching. Their teaching and their research will be more intertwined."
- As did University Libraries, the College of Arts and Sciences paired a portion of their one-time funds with other monies to support a larger project. Construction on a 29,000-square-foot addition to Porter Hall will begin in June. The departments of Psychology and Environmental and Plant Biology will make use of the space, which will include lab space, teaching labs and classrooms.
The Department of Psychology is an active area that could use the added space: It procured the second-highest amount of external research funding in the college in fiscal year 2005-06 (with $1.9 million compared to the Department of Physics and Astronomy's $2.2 million).
The addition also will help the department prepare the next generation of researchers. According to Psychology Department Chair Bruce Carlson, part of the space will be two teaching labs, including one for psychophysiological research. "That's important to us because it will let us increase our use of lab instruction in psychology with the aim of improving our students' research skills."
- The College of Education has an initiative that works with area high schools to build well-being programs for their students. Faculty and students led by Assistant Professor Christine Bhatt in the George E. Hill Center for Counseling and Research are meeting with school counselors on a monthly basis to design ways to prevent suicide and drug and alcohol use among the student body. Reaching out to regional schools can help impact future Ohio University students, says Tom Davis, the center's director.
"We have more students enrolled from Athens County than any of the other 88 counties in Ohio," he says. "If we can make an impact on many of the students who matriculate in the university, we're making an impact on the student body."
Among other additional projects, the College of Education will put its one-time allotment toward a comprehensive evaluation of the university's strategy to reduce high-risk drinking created this fall.
Davis says, repeating a common campus theme, "What we've decided to attempt to do is to look at how our center can contribute to the university community."
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