Roderick J. McDavis

President Roderick J. McDavis

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A message from President McDavis in advance of the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting

The following message from President Roderick J. McDavis was sent to Ohio University faculty and staff on Thursday, June 9, 2016.

Dear Colleagues,

When developing any comprehensive strategy, one must have both the resources and the finances available for success. For this reason, a large portion of the Board of Trustees' attention later this month will be devoted to capital improvement projects, the FY2017 budget, and envisioning a Framework Plan for the future development of our Dublin extension campus.


Investing in our infrastructure is an investment in our future. Our state has once again shown great confidence in our university by passing a Capital Budget that allocates millions into higher education institutions like Ohio University. With the $22 million the state has allocated to the Athens campus, we intend to make a major impact on three major academic facilities: Clippinger, Ellis, and Seigfred. This capital support will help us to implement much-needed renovations on these and a few other buildings.

Through the generosity of our donors we are starting the design phase for the Sook Academic Center. In addition to enabling the University to provide much needed ADA restrooms to the Peden stadium complex, this facility will address study and instruction needs associated with our student athletes as well as those students working with them on group projects.

The Chillicothe, Eastern, Lancaster, Southern and Zanesville campuses also will receive state funding to be used for building renovations. We will pair the state support from the capital budget with university resources to make a bigger impact on these projects.

Additionally, the University has partnered with the City of Athens to construct a roadway between Stimson Avenue and Mill Street to establish a new gateway to the University and further achieve our goal of a “welcoming and user-friendly” campus as outlined in the 2016 Campus Master Plan. The project will replace the existing University-owned Mill Street Extension roadway sooner than anticipated and at a lower cost because of the participation of other funding partners.

We are seeking approval from the Board to partner with the City of Athens on this project. This accelerates the timing of our funding, but decreases the overall cost to the University due to the partnership raised by the City.


Ohio University's faculty and staff, as well as our Board of Trustees, always have been focused on our responsibility to be responsible stewards of the public funds we receive and to controlling tuitions and fees. As you are aware, one of the Board of Trustees strategic priorities has been specifically focused on student affordability, which is evidenced by initiatives implemented over the past several years such as the Scholarship Matching Program, investment in the new Signature Financial Aid Awards, and the Guaranteed Tuition Program.

Last year, as part of Ohio House Bill 64, the State announced several new initiatives focused on affordability and efficiency. These include requirements related to review of programs for duplication, low enrollment, and pathways for accelerated graduation. During prior Board meetings we reported on these items as well as our commitment to the Senate’s 5% challenge and our plan to comply.

During this Board meeting we will report on university efforts in response to the Governor’s Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency, including the recommendation and feedback of our own university committee of faculty and staff. I’m proud to say that we are well positioned to respond and implement the respective action plans as much of this will include reporting on activities that were already a priority of our Board and University community centered around revenue diversification, program development, student affordability, and institutional cost containment.


In order to remain good stewards of the public’s funds, we strive to achieve a balanced budget. I am proud to report that later this month, despite a few unforeseen setbacks, our administration will present a funds balanced FY17 budget to the Board for consideration and approval.

FY 17 SSI, although increased from FY16 actual, is expected to be $5.6 million less than we were originally budgeting due to allocation formula changes. As this information was not known until very late in the current planning process, we are proposing to the Board a one-time funding of this difference from University reserves in FY17. Planning Units will then develop a strategy to absorb this impact into our operating budget over the fiscal year.
We have no plans to change investment commitments to Board/University priorities. In the proposed budget, compensation commitments and merit pool increases remain. Additionally, we propose to continue to fund investment in our other major priorities designed to maintain our momentum including financial aid, innovation, and revenue investment opportunities.

While Athens will always be the keystone of Ohio University, we also want to be entrepreneurial in our approach to our other campuses. For this reason, we have devoted a full-time executive position to oversee the design and implementation of the OHIO for Ohio initiative.

At the June meeting, the Board will be focusing on the potential in Dublin. Much like the Comprehensive Master Plan that has been approved for the Athens Campus, the Board will be presented with the beginning stages of a Framework Plan for the Dublin Campus. The Board will provide its perspective, offer feedback, and direct the next steps in the development of this plan.

These are just a few of the key recommendations and discussions that lie ahead for the Board of Trustees when they meet on June 23-24 in Lancaster. A Compass article will be shared soon that will provide additional detail about some of the strategies we will implement to ensure a continued balanced budget. The important decisions coming before the Board will assuredly propel Ohio University forward.
Thank you for your work and contributions that continue to make Ohio University a great institution of higher learning.
Roderick J. McDavis