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OHIO trustees discuss affordability, capital improvements

President’s report highlights institution’s economic impact

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Aug. 29, 2013) – The Ohio University Board of Trustees discussed strategies to increase affordability and improve the student experience during meetings today at Columbus State Community College.

Vice President for University Advancement and President and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation Bryan Benchoff announced the launch of the Undergraduate Scholarship Investment Program to members of the Resources committee. The University has committed to investing $25 million – to match 50 cents on every dollar donated to eligible scholarship endowments beginning July 1 – in order to increase the University's endowed, undergraduate scholarship funding by $75 million. 

Benchoff stressed that these investments will help to expand the impact of scholarship fundraising and, in doing so, make OHIO more accessible, while enhancing efforts to recruit the best students. In order to ensure that the program impacts as many students as possible, endowed undergraduate scholarships that are designated to support students across an entire college — or University-wide — will be eligible for the match. (Additional eligibility criteria is available online.)

The program is part of the University's $100 Million Investment Plan that was introduced last year for the purpose of allocating one-time funds to support institutional priorities.

The Board also heard an update on plans to implement a guaranteed tuition model. A Tuition Guarantee Implementation Team met during the summer to assess the challenges associated with coordinating communications and recruitment, exceptions for unique student populations and programs, housing, dining, PeopleSoft upgrades and course fees. 

Although they considered the possibility of a fall 2014 start date, the committee members determined that would not be feasible given the complexity of the endeavor. Instead, they recommended a fall 2015 implementation to help ensure a successful transition.

In the Resources committee, Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Golding presented a detailed analysis of how the University could incorporate an additional $100 million in debt to fund more projects as part of the six-year capital improvement plan.

The Board had encouraged this assessment after discussions at the June Board meeting indicated it might make sense to add this amount to the already-authorized $485 million of strategic debt and take advantage of favorable interest rates.

Based on the potential impact on OHIO's credit rating, and the institution's ability to handle more construction, Golding said that it is better to borrow the amount over time based on immediate need rather than all at once. This would allow for the University to build financial resources and pay down older debt, while also ensuring that it has the logistical capacity to implement the additional projects. 

Golding and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, along with several other University administrators, shared with the full Board highlights from the University's Economic Impact Report, which explores and quantifies the value and economic impact of all of the University's campuses on the state of Ohio.

The report shows that the University, as an employer of more than 4,600, is a source of accessible education and workforce development, driving economic growth as a significant revenue generator. It also emphasizes the importance of OHIO as an institution that supports research, cultivates entrepreneurship, promotes health and wellness, leads in a variety of sustainability initiatives and enriches the quality of life throughout the Southeast Ohio region.

According to Golding, the University's positive role with initiatives encompassing local, regional and state economies is a priority and will continue to inform decisions on how to invest institutional resources. Additional highlights from the University's impact in 2012 include:

  • Over $1.5 billion in economic output benefiting the state and its citizens
  • Over $104 million in state and local tax revenue
  • 7,928 degrees and certificates awarded, which include 5,465 bachelor's degrees, representing a 38 percent increase from five years ago
  • Over 1.4 million hours of OHIO students engaged in internships, practicums, capstones, field experience and student teaching during the 2011-12 academic year for a value of over $25.8 million to the local, regional and national community
  • Over 190,000 OHIO alumni worldwide, including 110,000 alumni living in Ohio
  • Over $30.5 million in external research funding, including $21.2 million from federal sources
  • Over 31,900 Ohio residents served by OHIO faculty, staff and students through Community Health Programs in 2011-12

In other business, the Board approved:

  • A resolution to approve a 1 percent salary pool for both faculty and staff on all campuses. The additional 1 percent salary pool will be allocated based upon guidelines developed by Benoit and Golding.
  • A resolution to establish a quasi-endowment of $25 million for the purpose of providing the matching funds for the Undergraduate Scholarship Investment Program and a quasi-endowment to provide the $2 million match commitment for the John Kopchick, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Distinguished Endowed Chair. The latter will complement a $3 million endowment already established by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations.
  • A resolution designating the vice president for Finance and Administration as the University's appointing authority for classified civil service employees. This person also has the authority to delegate these responsibilities to another senior administrator in the Office of Finance and Administration.
  • A resolution to approve plans for Alden HVAC improvements and a new elevator in Haning Hall and to authorize the University to develop construction documents, receive bids and award construction contracts for those projects.
  • A resolution to name the building at 20 East Union Street on the Athens campus the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication.
  • A resolution to name the new multi-purpose facility on South Green Drive the Walter Fieldhouse.
  • A resolution naming the central Ohio extension campus Ohio University Dublin. The central Ohio medical campus within that campus will be named Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Dublin.
  • A resolution to change the name of the School of Art to the School of Art + Design.
  • A resolution to approve a revised budget and authorize the University to accept and award construction contracts for the Pruitt field and track replacement project.