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Board of Trustees approve new procedure on degree revocation

Board approves naming of university center and Sales Centre

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 20, 2006) — Ohio University’s Board of Trustees met on Oct. 19-20 in Athens and approved many university business and academic initiatives. 

Academic Honesty
The board approved measures to address the issue of academic honesty, including a procedure that empowers the president to work alongside the provost to revoke previously granted degrees when necessary in cases of plagiarism and other methods of academic dishonesty. Examples of serious offenses include cheating, plagiarism, illegal collaboration or fabrication, and forged attendance.

The procedure is applicable to former graduate students and authorizes the university the right to revoke any degree earned at the university that was fulfilled using dishonest or deceptive tactics.

Under the procedure, the provost will establish a hearing committee to review the allegations and recommend appropriate action. The provost will then act on the recommendation and report her decision to the president. The president will then formally act on the provost’s decision. 
 
“What’s bigger to me is that we are going to focus on integrating into the fabric of the institution prevention strategies so that we are not here again,” said President Roderick J. McDavis. “We will work more closely with academic units, faculty and students to put in place measures that will prevent further occurrences of plagiarism at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

“The actions that the Board of Trustees has taken affirm the core value of academic integrity at Ohio University,” said Provost Kathy Krendl. “Academic honesty is the foundation of our academic programs as well as our scholarly research and cannot be compromised.”

Russ College of Engineering Academic Honesty Hearing Committee Process
The board was updated on how the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee process will be implemented in regards to the pending Russ College of Engineering plagiarism cases. The committee will begin reviewing cases of alleged academic misconduct against former graduate students the week of Oct. 23.

Sanctions may include a rewrite or revocation of degree, with an appropriate notation made on the academic transcript. Only the provost can remove notations. The provost also will decide all appeals, which must be filed in writing within 10 days of written notification to the accused of the sanction.

If a former student agrees to the committee’s recommended sanctions, no hearing will take place. If a former student disagrees, a hearing will be scheduled. Former students may be represented by legal counsel and may appear via telephone or video, but hearings can proceed in the absence of the accused.

Both the accused and the university will make opening statements, present evidence, present and question witnesses, and summarize their case. Former students also will have the opportunity to make a statement of impact in the event he or she is found in violation. Hearings will be closed to the public and cases will be decided in closed session by majority vote.

The Russ College is currently reviewing additional theses and dissertations as a precaution. In addition, the college has developed a process to assess the more than 1,800 remaining theses and dissertations dating back to 1980. Officials will use commonly accepted quality control techniques to draw a sample of them for further review.

The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee is comprised of Chair David Ingram, professor of Physics and Astronomy and chair of Faculty Senate Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee; William Condee, director of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Butch Hill, co-director of the Cutler Scholars Program and former university ombuds and chair of Faculty Senate.

Official Namings
The board approved the naming of the new university center as the John Calhoun Baker University Center. The naming continues the legacy of the late university president who is affectionately known as the “father of the modern Ohio University.” Baker, the university’s 14th president, died in 1999 and is the namesake of the current university center. The new center officially opens for business at the start of winter quarter on Jan. 2, 2007. 
Also approved was the renaming of The Sales Centre at Ohio University to The Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre at Ohio University. The couple had already received the first Lifetime Friend of the Sales Centre award from the college. Ralph is a former Ohio University Board of Trustees member and a founding member of the Professional Sales Advisory Board of the Sales Centre. The couple’s son, Larry, is a current Ohio University Board of Trustees member and Athens resident.

Intercollegiate Athletics
The board heard a report from Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Kirby Hocutt on his progress on building a framework for a new Student-Athlete Code of Conduct that will replace the existing policies and procedures in place. The framework provides standards that are consistent with the university’s standards for student conduct. Hocutt’s goal remains to have the new Student-Athlete Code of Conduct in place in January.

“I am confident that we are developing a policy that is the right approach for Ohio University and that will be a model policy on the national level,” Hocutt said.

Information Technology Update
The board was updated on the progress of the Information Technology Blueprint for Success, which is a 20-point plan that will help the information technology operation at the university evolve into one of the nation’s best. The plan calls for better technology, strategy and process, and organization and governance to be successful.

Several of the key points are the implementation of the perimeter firewall, which was installed on Oct. 14, and the reduced use of Social Security numbers and the progress toward using encryption software to protect sensitive data. The perimeter firewall will help prevent future cases of external hackers accessing and gaining control of university computers and also will increase the overall security of the university’s IT function. Other IT items discussed include the hiring of a new chief information officer for the university in late October and the completion of the first draft of a four-year funding analysis.

Human Resources and Benefits
The board heard a report from Vice President for Finance and Administration William Decatur on the Early Retirement Incentive Program and health benefits. To date, 79 of the 316 eligible employees have opted for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System ERIP. He said 49 of the 79 ERIP positions have been abolished. The university has eliminated 111.5 jobs overall through layoffs (29.5) and ERIP (49) and the abolishment of vacant positions (33).

Despite a national trend of health insurance premiums growing at a faster rate than employees’ paychecks, Ohio University employees’ share of health benefits costs are expected to decrease for the third straight year in fiscal year 2007. During that same period, the university’s health benefits costs increased by 11 percent, or $3.4 million in fiscal year 2006, and are projected to increase 7 percent or $2.4 million in fiscal year 2007.

Since Ohio University is a self-insured entity that uses outside companies such as Anthem or Medical Mutual only to manage the health care operation, decreases in employee contributions are a rarity.

An Oct. 18 Columbus Dispatch story notes a recent survey conducted by Families USA revealed that since 2000, Ohio is the third worst state in the nation when it comes to employee pay raises not keeping up with increases in health care premiums. The story states Ohio pay raises have increased by 8.7 percent during the past six years, while total health-insurance premiums in employer-sponsored policies increased about 74 percent. Only Michigan and South Carolina ranked lower in the findings.

Academics
The board approved a new Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The center will perform ecological and evolutionary research that will enhance the prominence of the research and learning at the university. The OCEES will utilize faculty from the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Arts and Sciences, Voinovich Center and the Environmental Studies Program.

A new associate’s degree in applied science in health technologies was approved for the Office for University Outreach and Regional Campuses. The program is designed to integrate students’ technical skills with general academic skills, which will enhance their ability to advance their careers.

The board approved two new College of Business certificates. The financial planning certificate will allow students a chance to pursue the Certified Financial Planner designation awarded by the CFP board, pursue careers in comprehensive financial planning and bolster their marketability to potential employers. The other is a sales certificate with a technical focus based out of the College of Business Sales Centre. It is the sixth certificate offered by the Sales Centre and will aid students who want to work with manufacturing firms and industrial suppliers.

Business
The board approved a resolution to reissue $6.35 million in general receipts bond anticipation notes for the university. The bonds will be used to fund the advancement of electronic document management system technologies, Internet-based financial reporting and an automated time and attendance system manufactured by Workforce Software.

The board approved a resolution for a second renewal of the lease for the Amerihost Inn on Home St. in Athens for a period of 20 years beginning in 2029. The terms of the renewal are basic rent of $24,000 for the first three years with an 5 percent inflation escalator every three years afterward, plus 5 percent of the gross annual room rentals over $500,000 each year.

The board approved construction documents and authorized the university to advertise, receive bids and award contracts for the Grosvenor Hall fire alarm renovation and the Ohio University Bush Airport relocation of NAVAID System projects. Grosvenor currently does not meet life-safety requirements and has been a victim of numerous false alarms. Estimated cost of the project is $316,115. The relocation of the Bush Airport beacons and navigation controls is estimated to cost $430,000; however, 90 percent of the project will be funded with federal dollars. The project will relocate off-site beacons, which are no longer required by the FAA, and upgrade on-site airfield navigation aids to bring operating surfaces into compliance with current standards.

The board authorized the university to hire consultants for the Bush Airport snow removal equipment storage facility and the Lancaster Campus and Pickerington Center storm sewer and parking lot repairs project. The Bush Airport equipment storage facility project is budgeted for $380,000, while the storm sewer and parking lot repairs project is estimated to cost $400,000. A U.S. EPA grant will fund 50 percent of the storm sewer and parking lot project.

The Board approved:

  • Emeritus status for four former and current university employees. Gary North, former vice president for finance and administration; Don Stout, former director of University Publications; R. Budd Werner, executive in residence in the College of Business; and Elizabeth Westenbarger, former assistant director of Procurement Services, are the awardees.

  • The appointment of Sandra L. Carroll to the Coordinating Council for the Ohio University Southern campus. Her term begins Nov. 1, 2006, and ends June 30, 2009. She is the CEO and owner of Safeguard Business Systems in Proctorville, Ohio.

  • A report from the external audit firm Deloitte, and accepted the audited financial statements and the report on federal awards issued in accordance with OMB Circular A-133 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006. The board’s approval of the Deloitte report is subject to the acceptance by The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees of The Ohio University Foundation audited financial statements in early November.

The Board heard:

  • Reviews of the degree programs in environmental engineering technology/hazardous materials technology; hearing, speech and language sciences; computer science technology; and the individual interdisciplinary program. Every academic program at the university must be reviewed every seven years.

  • A report from Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt that presented the results of an e-mail survey that revealed the primary concerns of faculty on campus. She said the faculty was most concerned with salaries, shared governance, budget issues and priorities, and administrators’ salaries and practices. She also gave four overarching themes that faculty is concerned with. These include faculty recruitment and retention, shared governance, resources to support academic quality and overall academic standards at the university. Bernt also reviewed some of the things the university is doing to remedy the issues and concerns of the faculty.

  • Reviews of the Institute for Qualitative Biology; WOUB Center for Public Media; Center for Advanced Software Systems Integration; Avionics Engineering Center; Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology; Child Development Center, Tropical and Geographical Disease Institute; Center for eBusiness; and the Institute for Telecommunication Studies. After the reviews, the board agreed with the university’s decision to discontinue The Center for eBusiness and the Institute for Telecommunication Studies. Both programs were found to be outdated.

  • An internal audit report performed by Ohio University’s Internal Audit Office.

  • A report on findings by The Commission on the Future of Higher Education by Ohio University Distinguished Professor of Economics Richard Vedder. The commission is charged with developing a comprehensive national strategy for postsecondary education that will meet the needs of America’s diverse population and also address the economic and workforce needs of the country’s future. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings appointed Vedder to the commission in September 2005.

  • Details about The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education survey. A product of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, the survey will be used this fall to gather the opinions of tenure-track faculty on institutional policies and job satisfaction. The results will be compared to the results from the same class of faculty at peer institutions. The results also will be shared with the faculty this spring and used to implement programs that will help retain junior faculty. For more information on COACHE, visit www.coache.org.


President’s Report
The board heard a report by President McDavis, who shared some of his goals for the academic year. His primary goals include improving communication and collaboration with faculty, managing the information technology recovery process, implementing high-risk drinking strategies and Vision OHIO priorities, raising funds to support the university’s identified strategic priorities and strengthening the university’s financial outlook.

As part of his efforts to communicate better with faculty, McDavis has met with more than 200 faculty members via scheduled meetings. He also attends weekly luncheons with faculty members to discuss their issues and share ideas.
 
McDavis also updated the board on the chief information officer search, gave an update on civic responsibility initiatives and talked about the university’s top three investment priorities, which are investing in faculty, undergraduate education and graduate education and research.

Provost’s Report
Provost Krendl provided updates on enrollment for 2006-07 and the recruitment priorities for the 2007-08 academic year. She also provided an overview of academic honesty procedures and information technology priorities, as well as progress to date on the review of general education learning outcomes.

Krendl reviewed the processes associated with investments emerging from the Vision OHIO strategic planning priorities in undergraduate education, graduate education and research, and faculty compensation and support.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery at 740-707-1368 or jefferyj@ohio.edu or Media Specialist George Mauzy at 740-597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu 

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