By George Mauzy and Monica Chapman
Ohio University's Board of Trustees met last week, with individual committees meeting on Thursday and the full board meeting on Friday. Members of the Academics Committee heard updates on a number of university initiatives, including:
Centers of Excellence
Committee members endorsed Ohio University's identification of three candidates for University System of Ohio Centers of Excellence: the Scripps College of Communication; Advancing Health and Wellness through Translational Biosciences, Educational Innovation and Rural Health; and Energy and the Environment.
Identification of Centers of Excellence is part of the USO's strategic plan to raise the national profile of public institutions, prioritize higher education resources and better meet the growing needs of students. According to the USO's strategic plan, the chancellor, in consultation with the state's director of development, will make final determinations on Centers of Excellence at each of Ohio's public institutions in order to guarantee a range of academic strengths throughout the state.
Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said the centers were chosen because they met all of the criteria set forth by Chancellor Eric Fingerhut. Through Vision Ohio, the university has invested significant resources in each center's programs, which Krendl said contribute to local and regional economies and exhibit the potential for world-class excellence. She said all of the centers contain quality academic programs, including 15 graduate programs that received excellent or very good ratings from the university's Task Force on Centers of Excellence.
Krendl reminded the board of the state's strong support of higher education and communicated a need to reciprocate. "What we're seeing is a vote of confidence in us, and we need to be sure that we're delivering," she said.
Board members voiced support for each of the proposed centers after hearing presentations on each.
Krendl said the internal process of identifying Ohio University's Centers of Excellence has also helped to highlight programs of distinction within the university, noting the example of the Honor's Tutorial College. Because of the HTC's unique nature, Krendl said the program can't be nationally benchmarked, and thus it doesn't meet the Fingerhut's criteria for a Center of Excellence. Krendl said the university is continuing to explore ways to market all academic areas of strength, including its programs of distinction.
Student Information System
Brice Bible updated the board on the improvements to the student information system, the next generation network and the universitywide IT alignment. Dubbed the "Rufus Initiative," Bible kicked off the NextGen SIS project Thursday morning. To read more about the project, click here.
In response to board queries, Bible assured the Academics Committee that there is a general consensus about the value of a campus-wide SIS overhaul.
"Change is always a challenge," he said, "but it's the right thing to do."
Student judicial update
Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith told the committee that he was pleased by several statistics produced as a result of a four-year comparison of Ohio University judicial cases.
Between the academic years beginning in 2005 through 2008, total judiciary cases dropped by about 51 percent, and alcohol cases fell 60 percent, he said. Specifically, the office processed a total of 1,502 cases in 2008-09, compared with 3,089 in 2005-06. Included in those numbers were 937 alcohol cases, compared with 2,362 cases four years prior. Cases involving marijuana also dropped by 40 percent. Since the university implemented tougher sanctioning protocol for alcohol and drug violations in fall 2008, violations have declined by 31 percent.
"Our protocol improvement is the difference," Smith said. "We've gotten very tough on them and I think our students understand that and are reacting in a positive way."