ATHENS, Ohio (April 16, 2004) -- In recognition of continued erosion of state support for public higher education, Ohio University President Robert Glidden presented the Board of Trustees with a recommended budget calling for the institution to reduce expenditures by $4.49 million for fiscal year 2005, which begins July 1. Combined with last year's cutbacks of $8 million, the university's reductions total more than $12 million in two years.
The budget plan recommends that planning unit budgets will be reduced by approximately 1.7 percent, or $3.25 million. The remaining budget reductions that are currently proposed combine benefits savings from positions abolished through the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) as well as targeted reductions to several discretionary budget areas that were not considered central to the core mission of the university.
State support of higher education has decreased by approximately $1,000 per student at state universities in Ohio over the last three years. State funding for students on the Athens campus has decreased from 48 percent of a student's educational costs in fiscal year 1999 to 38 percent in FY 2004, a reduction of more than 20 percent.
The recommended tuition and fee increase of 9 percent for the 2004-05 academic year is less than the 9.9 percent allowed to state universities. The increase includes 6 percent for tuition, 2 percent dedicated to technology projects such as creating a wireless capacity for the campus and a 1 percent increase for need-based aid.
The plan calls for salary-wage increases that are based upon a pool of funding representing approximately 3.5 percent of the institution's total payroll. The recommended budget also provides an additional $750,000 for equity adjustments across the university, as well as the final increment needed to fund last year's mid-year faculty salary adjustments. The combination of these efforts should enable the university to make significant progress toward improving the competitiveness of Ohio University's faculty salaries relative to other public universities in Ohio.
The proposal is the result of efforts to effectively allocate available funding to support the institution's core mission, improve operational efficiency and incorporate a collaborative, university-wide process in reaching the recommendations. The plan is also based upon discussions and input from three broad-based committees that have been studying revenue enhancement, efficiency and compensation.
"People across the university have worked hard to control costs and spending," Glidden said. "But, there are certain areas in which we must invest if we are to continue to move forward and if we are to maintain a leadership role in higher education. This is a responsible budget that is sensitive to the costs we pass along to our students and the need for our employees to not lose ground on salaries and health-care benefits."
The plan calls for no new contributions on behalf of employees for health care benefits, although the board has asked for a thorough study of the institution's health care plan in the upcoming year. The outcome of that evaluation will help determine future directions in costs and coverage for any plan adopted after FY05.
The board approved construction documents and the awarding of contracts for four projects:
- A 15,000-square- foot facility at the Proctorville Center, an extension of Ohio University Southern Campus. The $3.2 million project will create more classroom space that is needed to meet expanding program requirements. The Proctorville Center will house classrooms, offices, a student lounge and reception area. The authorization is for the first phase of the project, which will begin the development of the site and its preparation to receive the proposed building at a future date.
- A Technology Training Center at Ohio University Southern Campus to provide training that fits the current and future needs of area employers. The 6,000-square-foot structure will include classrooms, computer training rooms and offices and will facilitate training workers in Lawrence County and the region. The Enterprise Ohio Network, with Ohio University Southern contributing $340,000, provides the majority of funding for the $1.15 million project.
- Renovation of the Rock Hill Elementary Facility in Hanging Rock for use as a child-care facility by Ohio University Southern Campus students. Ohio University students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Program will also use the center. Funding of the $820,000 project will be provided by $448,000 in state capital allocations and a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, with Ohio University Southern funding the remaining portion.
- Exterior site improvements to the Ohio University Chillicothe Campus, a $248,000 project to rehabilitate the parking area serving the Shoemaker Center. The project will be funded by money provided by House Bill 675.
In other action, the board authorized the renaming of Burson House, which houses the Center for International Studies, to the Yamada International House in memory of former Chubu University Chancellor Kazuo Yamada, a friend of the university for more than 30 years until his death in 2000. Ohio University and Chubu have maintained an exchange involving dozens of faculty and staff members and hundreds of students.
Honorary degrees were authorized for noted author and historian David McCullough, the 2004 undergraduate commencement speaker; former trustee N. Victor Goodman, an avid supporter of higher education in the state of Ohio; and Riste Gusterov, who has provided financial support for three Macedonian students who will graduate in June and helped to extend the Cutler Scholars program to that country.
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