Oct 17, 2013
By Angela Woodward
The Ohio University Board of Trustees appreciates the work of the University's faculty and is committed to helping faculty members achieve OHIO's vision to become the nation's best transformative learning community.
That was the message Board of Trustees Chair Sandra Anderson delivered at Monday's Faculty Senate meeting.
"You are the heart of our institution," Anderson told the senate body. "We all have the same mission, and I hope you understand that we are part of your team."
Representatives from the Board of Trustees attend one Faculty Senate meeting annually. This year's visit featured Anderson and Board of Trustees Vice Chair David Brightbill, both of whom graduated from OHIO in the 1970s.
Anderson and Brightbill shared a little background information on themselves as well as information on the Board of Trustees, its membership and its role at OHIO before fielding more than a dozen questions from faculty members. The questions – some of which were submitted in advance – focused on the declining number of Group 1, or tenure-track, faculty at OHIO; the University's growth and its effect on faculty workload and the student experience; faculty compensation and morale; and the funding of Intercollegiate Athletics.
In response to several questions regarding the declining number of Group 1 faculty, Anderson said the Board is paying attention to not only the faculty headcount numbers at OHIO but also national trends. She noted that Group 1 faculty accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of OHIO's faculty while nationally that number falls in the 30 percent range. She credited the decline in the number of Group 1 faculty at OHIO in part to early retirements.
Anderson also noted that 60 percent of OHIO's budget is allocated to personnel costs and 48 percent specifically to faculty compensation.
"We think Group 1 faculty are very important to the mission of this research institution," Anderson said. "We also believe they are very important to the student experience."
According to Faculty Senate Chair Elizabeth Sayrs, Howard Dewald, associate provost for faculty and academic planning, is reviewing the faculty positions that were bought out and how those positions were filled. Sayrs said OHIO's Group 1 faculty numbers look stable this year with final numbers expected in November.
In regards to OHIO's growth and its effect on faculty and the student experience, Anderson noted that the Board's August retreat featured an entire session on smart growth.
"We're not getting bigger for the sake of getting bigger," Anderson said, noting that some areas of the University aren't growing but rather adapting to changes in the college experience. As an example, she cited Residential Housing on the Athens Campus where the University is replacing and taking offline residence halls that are inefficient and costly to update.
Anderson also commented that smart growth combined with strategic enrollment has resulted in OHIO setting a number of records this year in terms of applications and admissions to the University as well as diversity and the quality of OHIO students.
Anderson fielded several questions regarding faculty compensation and heard from some faculty members who voiced concerns about low faculty morale.
"One of the fundamental priorities we have is effective total compensation," Anderson said, adding that compensation is being addressed by a task force that will provide recommendations to the Board. "It's important to faculty recruitment and retention."
Anderson noted the 2 percent salary raise pool announced last spring as well as the 1 percent salary pool the Board approved at its August meeting. She also mentioned the COMP 2014 work under way with respect to staff compensation.
In regards to concerns about low faculty morale at OHIO, Anderson commented that the Board of Trustees is grateful for the University's faculty, which she called the heart of the institution. She pointed out that the University's faculty retention rate stands at more than 90 percent.
Anderson said that the University weathered a tough recessionary period that, thanks to OHIO's leadership, has provided the University with more options than it had in the past. She noted OHIO's commitment to tackling deferred maintenance on its campuses and the University's successes when it comes to recruiting a more diverse and higher quality student body.
"There's much to celebrate here," Anderson said.
Regarding the funding of Intercollegiate Athletics, Anderson explained that athletic funding comes from a variety of sources, including the University's general fee, ticket sales and licensing revenue.
"It is true that very rarely do college athletic programs totally sustain themselves," she said, adding, however, that recent trends point toward more self-sustainability of OHIO's athletic programs. As an example, she said that ticket sales from football and men's basketball set records for both OHIO and the Mid-American Conference.
When asked about how the University calculates its return on investment regarding funding of OHIO athletics, Anderson noted the intangible benefits, including student and alumni engagement, support, donations and the passion OHIO's athletic programs generate among students and in Southeast Ohio. She mentioned a recent Economic Impact Study that quantified the effect OHIO athletics has had on the Southeast Ohio region. She also noted that 90 percent to 95 percent of OHIO's student-athletes complete their eligibility and graduate.
"Athletics is not separate from this University," Anderson said. "It's part of the student experience. It's part of our alumni experience. … It's part of our brand and part of the image we portray. … And it's all been positive in the past couple of years."
The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held at 7:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in Walter Hall 235.
At Monday's Faculty Senate meeting, Chair Elizabeth Sayrs announced that the senate's new website – http://www.ohio.edu/facultysenate/ – is up and running.
Among the new website's features are a link to the University Curriculum Council as well as a news feature that can link to stories produced internally and externally.
Sayrs noted that some of the archived material is still being transferred over to the new website.