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OHIO Board of Trustees approves FY 2015 budget, reviews strategic plans

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the institution’s fiscal year 2015 budget and looked to the future with overviews of long-term planning initiatives at meetings on the Eastern Campus.

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit reviewed the FY 2015 operating budget during a joint committee meeting on Thursday morning. As part of the Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) budgeting process, each college created multi-year investment plans based on their academic goals. They also held in-depth discussions with University leadership about these plans, which incorporate opportunities for new revenue and strategic investments in areas like academic programming, instructional innovation, student recruitment and research.

According to Benoit, the budget, which encompasses all University campuses, strongly reflects institutional priorities. The Signature Awards Program, a newly funded financial aid initiative, coupled with a tuition increase below the state-mandated cap illustrates a commitment to affordability and accessibility. The Undergraduate Scholarship Investment Program, which endeavors to grow the endowed scholarship pool by $75 million, and The OHIO Guarantee likewise contribute to these goals.

A 2 percent raise pool supports faculty and staff compensation, with an additional $2.04 million set aside as one step in a multi-year plan to move faculty compensation levels to third among the four-year public universities in Ohio. There is also $2 million identified to fund the Administrative and Classified staff COMP 2014 initiative, set to be complete by December 2014.

Capital investments are another institutional priority, as reflected in both the operating budget and the FY 2015 Capital Plan. Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding reviewed the $388 million plan, which is part of the Six Year Capital Improvement Plan already approved by the Board last November. Informed by both the physical needs of the campus and the University’s core academic mission, the plan funds a variety of projects including renovations to McCracken and Seigfred Halls, classroom rehabilitations and improvements to OHIO’s energy infrastructure.

Golding also introduced the possibility of utilizing strategic debt in the form of a $250 million taxable Century Bond in order to reduce the University’s deferred maintenance backlog from the current level of $87 to $59 per gross square foot by FY 2020. The trustees will hear more details about this potential strategy and its impact on OHIO’s debt capacity at their August meeting.

The Capital Improvement Plan, along with the University’s many other planning initiatives, will all feed into the University’s Comprehensive Master Plan. Last updated in 2006, the project will integrate all of the University’s long-term planning efforts like the Sustainability and Climate Action Plans, the Strategic Enrollment Plan and the Ridges Master Plan among many others. The document will then serve as a roadmap to guide OHIO’s future physical development in a way that further supports the academic mission.

Chair David Brightbill and the other trustees surprised President Roderick J. McDavis at the end of the full Board meeting on Friday with a video honoring his 10th anniversary as OHIO’s leader. President McDavis became president of the University on July 1, 2004.

The video featured tributes to President McDavis from former University presidents Vernon Alden, Charles Ping and Robert Glidden, as well as heartfelt messages from his wife, First Lady Deborah McDavis, and his two sons, Ryan and Tony. It also highlighted President McDavis’ accomplishments during his tenure from expanding student participation in learning communities and creating the Appalachian Scholars program, to overseeing record-setting enrollments and successfully growing OHIO’s endowment.

In other business, the Board approved:

  • A resolution to accept the recommended tuition, fee and rate increases for the Athens Campus, regional campuses and the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. This includes a 1.5 percent tuition increase to the instructional and general fee for undergraduates on the Athens Campus; a 3.5 percent increase to Athens Campus Residential Housing rates; and a 1 percent increase to Athens Campus Culinary Services rates.

  • A resolution to approve the FY 2015 Capital Improvement Plan.

  • A resolution allowing the University to select a consultant to assist in updating the University’s Comprehensive Master Plan encompassing the Athens and Dublin campuses.

  • A resolution to undertake a Utilities Master Planning Effort at the cost of $1.1 million and to move forward with planning the Energy Infrastructure Projects Initiative.

  • A resolution to undertake schematic design for the Alden Library Renovations Phase I; design and bid documents for the Eastern Campus Health and Physical Education Center flat roof replacement; schematic design for the Grover Center E-22 expansion; documents for the McCracken Hall renovation and addition and a budget amendment for the project; design and construction documents for the Stocker Center sprinkler replacement; and schematic design for the Zanesville Campus Center roof.

  • A resolution to proceed with construction for Alden Library HVAC; Eastern Campus HVAC improvements; Multiphase Corrosion Facility; Schoonover Phase II construction; Southern Campus HVAC improvements; and the Walter Fieldhouse. All of these projects except for the Eastern Campus HVAC improvements include an amendment to a previously approved budget.

  • A resolution to proceed with construction for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Cleveland Campus.

  • A resolution to amend the ground lease with Mill Street Village, LLC.

  • A resolution approving proposed Faculty Fellowship Leaves for the 2014-2015 academic year.

  • A resolution to award emeritus/emerita status to 32 faculty and staff members upon their retirement.

  • A resolution to make appointments to the Coordinating Councils at the Chillicothe, Eastern, Lancaster, Southern and Zanesville campuses.

  • A resolution to offer the Bachelor of Science in Integrated Healthcare Studies by the Department of Health Sciences and Professions in the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

  • A resolution to change the name of the Women’s and Gender Studies program to the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

  • Resolutions to offer the Bachelor of Science in Sport and Lifestyle Studies and the Associate of Technical Study on Ohio University regional campuses.

  • Resolutions to elect Roderick J. McDavis president, Stephen Golding treasurer and Peter Mather secretary of the Board of Trustees.

  • A resolution to authorize Internal Audit’s Annual Audit Plan.

  • A resolution to amend President McDavis’ employment agreement in order to indemnify him for the costs of any imputed income or tax liability that may result from the requirement that he reside at 29 Park Place on the Athens Campus as well as from any other taxable benefits granted under the employment agreement.

  • A resolution authorizing the University to negotiate and resolve any issues raised in connection with the employment tax audit covering Calendar Year 2011 currently being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service and to report to the Board the nature and financial impact of such resolution.