Roderick J. McDavis

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President McDavis comments on FY 2014 University budget

On Monday, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis sent the following email to campus community members updating them on the FY 2014 University budget:

Dear Colleagues,

This past Friday morning, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved our proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 operating budget. In so doing, the Board recognized the importance of sustaining academic excellence, maintaining affordability, supporting our workforce, attending to our physical environment, and contributing to the well being of our region and the state as a whole.

In our discussions with the Board about the proposed budget, we drew attention to the steps that have been taken to honor our commitment to affordability and accessibility for Ohio University students. We outlined key planning initiatives including those related to enrollment, infrastructure, residential housing, and total compensation. We underscored our commitment to ensure that institutional resources must be prioritized to support the integration of the University’s research and teaching mission, student success, globalization and the expansion of our eLearning footprint. And we noted the University’s unique leadership role in technology commercialization, and economic and workforce development in Southeast Ohio.

Integral to these efforts has been the long-term goal of strengthening the University’s balance sheet. This has not been easy given the economic circumstances of the past decade. The consequences of a declining per capita share of State Subsidy for Instruction has necessitated student tuition increases and the loss of State capital funding has accelerated our deferred maintenance backlog. Every facet of University life has been affected by 10 years of economic challenges including the number of Group I faculty and the availability of resources to invest in new programs, in technologies, in our grounds, facilities, laboratories, and in essential business infrastructure.

Despite these circumstances, Ohio University has demonstrated a remarkable resilience. We have worked hard to preserve the University’s academic core. Our student body has grown, not only in numbers but in quality. University programs have been recognized as Centers of Excellence, ranked highly by a variety of external entities, and sought by other academic institutions, corporations, and organizations to collaborate on high visibility international, national, and state-wide initiatives. 

By all measures, we have been able to preserve Ohio University’s value proposition and key metrics would indicate in some respects we have even enhanced them in the face of challenging times. Our success is the result of the hard work of many dedicated individuals who have always put our students first.

Making the Case for Investment

In putting together their budget proposals for FY2014, several other in-state public universities elected not to propose a tuition increase. Our current level of efficiency, productivity, and planning is such that existing resources are being fully and strategically expended. Without a modest increase in tuition, we would not be able to make necessary and timely investments in key areas of the University. 

In authorizing a 1.6 percent tuition increase for the upcoming fiscal year, our Board has given us the ability to make progress on improving faculty and staff compensation, Information Technology, Residential Life and our academic facilities. It has acknowledged that “making do” would perpetuate a legacy of inter-generational inequality wherein future generations of students end up paying a premium to remediate chronic and serious deficiencies.  

The Board’s approval of our proposed budget will allow us to provide a 2 percent raise pool for benefits eligible Ohio University employees. Classified employees will receive 2 percent increases across the board, while administrators and faculty will receive increases based on merit. Colleges will have the option to set aside up to 0.5 percent of their pool to address exceptional merit and equity issues. In addition, for faculty, there will be the potential for an additional 1 percent mid-year raise pool for retroactive increases effective to July 1, 2013. The availability of this additional 1 percent raise pool is contingent on fall enrollment numbers (based on new and returning students but excluding e-Learning) creating sufficient new revenue to cover the increase. 

Other investments that have been made possible by the Board’s decision include:

• $93,311 increase in financial aid

• $3,751,945 to cover utility increases and capital investment needs

• $275,978 for increased health care costs


Maintaining Ohio University’s Success

At the November Board of Trustees meeting we engaged in an extensive discussion about our “true” peer group and how Ohio University ranked on both qualitative and quantitative measures. We demonstrated that for the dollars expended, Ohio University competes successfully with better-resourced public universities who have national profiles. We underscored that the quality of our faculty and academic programs was a significant factor in attracting the current generation of students. But we also pointed out that without continued investment we would not be able to sustain that quality thereby undercutting our vision of becoming the nation’s best transformative learning community.

We believe the FY2014 budget will support our efforts to provide an academic environment worthy of our history and of our potential. It balances the legitimate concerns about the rising costs of a college education with the need to ensure that we do not ignore the responsibilities we owe to future generations of Ohio University students.   

I want to thank our Trustees for acknowledging the hard work of our faculty and staff and for their confidence in our collective creativity, dedication, and acuity.


Roderick J. McDavis