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President and Provost report on budget, enrollment with Faculty Senate

On Monday, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit provided the Faculty Senate with a number of University updates.

President McDavis shared his participation in the Ohio Board of Regents' Complete College Task Force. Currently Ohio has a rate of college completion about 36 percent. Chancellor Jim Petro wants to increase those numbers, and the statewide task force will present its recommendations by Nov. 1.

Keeping his focus on the state-level, President McDavis also shared that the administration has directed state agency directors to come up with two budgets scenarios; one reflecting their current level of funding and one reflecting a 10 percent budget reduction.

"We will continue to advocate for further investment in higher education," said President McDavis.

He then informed the senate that five pieces of pension reform legislation were expected to be presented on the floors of the State House of Representatives and the State Senate as early as Wednesday. The five bills each represent a different state employee pension fund.

"If all occurs how we think it will, it will be passed in the next few weeks," explained President McDavis. He later continued that the "initial draft appears to be positive for those affected."

The focus then shifted to discussions that took place at the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, specifically the need to create a total compensation plan.

"Being able to attract and retain the best and brightest employees is key to our goal to be the nation's best transformative learning community for our students," said President McDavis.

He affirmed, in the case of faculty, that the plan to be developed will be in the spirit of Vision OHIO's compensation initiative which was not completed due to budget reductions associated with the 2008 recession.  

Compensation planning for administrative and classified staff will align with the work that is already underway in connection with the COMPENSATION 2014 project. The aim for fall semester is to model possible approaches and develop a timetable for the implementation of the plan.

Finally, President McDavis expressed his gratitude to the number of faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to make the transition from quarters to semesters relatively smooth.

Benoit then stepped forward to discuss preliminary enrollment numbers with the Faculty Senate. Further information on enrollment numbers for the new academic year can be found here.

She also expanded on hiring information President McDavis shared at the Faculty and Staff Convocation. The President reported that OHIO had hired 130 new faculty members. Benoit shared the types of hires that had been made last year but cautioned that as the numbers were self-reported for the purposes of the New Faculty Orientation that they were likely not complete. She anticipated having more definitive data on faculty hiring later in the year.

The provost then provided an overview of the University's $100 million reinvestment plan. Benoit emphasized that this $100 million is not base money but one-time-only resources used to seed initiatives that will become self-supporting through the development of new revenue sources. The $100 million reinvestment plan is designed to extend over seven years.

According to the provost, funding for the $100 million came from the University's conservative approach to budgeting its resources. For several years, the University has budgeted only 98 percent of its anticipated revenues. The unbudgeted overall funding plus investment income and additional funding that may accrue from enrollment over attainment will be the source of the $100 million pool.

The provost explained that the priorities for the $100 million grew out of conversations that she had with the Athens deans about needs that they identified in their units and the larger university. Discussion about a similar reinvestment plan for the regional campuses will take place with the regional deans. The proposed elements of the Athens plan are:

  • Approximately $24.7 million will go toward recruiting endowed professorships

  • Approximately $25.4 million will go toward scholarships

  • Approximately $8.6 million will go to develop new academic programs

  • Approximately $7 million will go toward student programs

  • Approximately $10.8 million will go toward faculty and staff training for the transition to RCM

  • The rest of the funding will go toward community initiatives

After their presentations, the president and provost spent time answering questions from senators.  

The next meeting of the Faculty Senate will be at 7:10 p.m. Oct. 8, 2012 in Walter Hall 235. Board of Trustee Chair Gene Harris and Vice Chair Sandra Anderson will be in attendance.