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Board of Trustees approves new programs, tuition and fee freeze during May meetings

Published: May 11, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The Ohio University Board of Trustees froze undergraduate tuition, room and board fees for FY2021 at their current levels and approved the creation of a number of new, in-demand programs during its meetings Monday.

The Board also approved the realignment of a portion of University Terrace during the online meetings.

The meetings were held in accordance with Ohio House Bill 197, which allows for public meetings to be conducted in an online environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic through Dec. 1, 2020.

Tuition/fee rates for FY21

In recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families, the Board approved a resolution for no increase to undergraduate tuition, room and board rates for the 2020-21 academic year.

The Board also approved a new policy to provide in-state tuition rates to graduate students who earned their bachelor’s degrees from an Ohio institution of higher education. This policy was requested by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Higher Education to enhance the likelihood that students will continue their education in Ohio. The policy will now be sent to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for approval. The financial impact of the new policy is expected to be small and could be offset by increased graduate student enrollment as a result of the policy.

This policy does not apply to the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has a distinct affordability-based tuition model and well-established efforts to encourage graduates to stay in Ohio. The Board approved a 2% increase in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s tuition and medical resource fee, as well as program fee increases for two Russ College of Engineering and Technology master’s degree programs.

New program creation

The Board approved the addition of a number of new programs across the University. They are:

  • Bachelor of Applied Human and Consumer Sciences Degree in Hospitality Management in the Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism program in the Patton College of Education.
  • Master of Education in Theater Education in the Department of Teacher Education in the Patton College of Education.
  • Master of Science in Project Management in the Department of Engineering Technology and Management in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
  • Master of Science in Translational Biomedical Sciences in the Graduate College.
  • Master of Sustainability, Security and Resilience in the Environmental Studies program in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

The new programs reflect Ohio University’s commitment to investing in new, in-demand programs identified as areas of growth for the University. All programs have been approved by the University Curriculum Council and in accordance with the Faculty Handbook.

Disaster operations

The Board approved a resolution that authorizes the president, now and in the future, to oversee and direct all steps necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the campus community when faced with a national, state or local state of emergency declaration, in consultation to the extent practicable with leadership of the Board of Trustees and the University.

The resolution also ratified and affirmed all lawful decisions made by the president related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the cessation of in-person instruction, extension of Spring Break, closure of campus buildings, prorated refunding of student housing and meals, the direction to employees to work from home, and other substantially-related orders in furtherance of the health, safety and welfare of the campus community since the state of emergency declaration issued by Gov. DeWine on March 9, 2020.

Undergraduate Scholarship Match Program extension

The Board approved the extension of the Undergraduate Scholarship Match Program, originally scheduled to end June 30, 2019, and previously extended to June 30, 2020, until June 30, 2024. The campaign was temporarily delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program was originally created with $25 million dedicated to strengthening the endowed scholarship program, including $16.5 million for general undergraduate scholarships and $8.5 million for targeted scholarship programs. The Board previously authorized use of the funds as a matching program, with 50 cents to match every dollar committed to eligible scholarship endowments.

University Terrace realignment

The Board approved a capital project to realign University Terrace. The realignment, part of the overall Clippinger strategy plan, would alter the path of the roadway so that it is not immediately adjacent to the Chemistry Building to decrease the risk associated with vehicle-pedestrian interactions in the area of Clippinger Hall and the Chemistry Building.

This project includes demolition and removal of the existing roadway between Race Street and South Green Drive and building a new one aligned further from the building and with an adjusted elevation to improve accessibility and integration with adjacent buildings and sidewalks. It will include two new public transit stops, as well as site restoration.

The project is budgeted at $1.87 million, with construction to occur during the second half of 2020. The realignment would be between the Clippinger Research Annex and the north side of Clippinger Laboratories.

University Brand project update

Vice President for University Communications and Marketing Robin Oliver presented an update on the University’s brand strategy, including an overview of the brand discovery phase, a brand positioning statement and summary, and a timeline for brand platform development.

The development of a clear brand message strategy is one of President M. Duane Nellis’ strategic initiatives. This branding vision will lift the OHIO brand and improve the institution’s reputation regionally and nationally and bolster enrollment and recruitment efforts.

Collective Bargaining Agreement decision

The Board did not ratify a tentative agreement between Ohio University and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8, Local 1699, for the period of March 1, 2020, to March 1, 2023. The union represents skilled trade, maintenance and food service employees. The agreement outlines the wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment for these employees.

The two parties previously approved a collective bargaining agreement for March 1, 2017, to March 1, 2020, and representatives of Ohio University and the union finalized a tentative agreement in early March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has since created unforeseen business circumstances that significantly altered the financial condition of Ohio University.

Because the Board did not ratify the tentative agreement, the two parties will resume negotiations and continue bargaining in good faith the terms and conditions of the subsequent collective bargaining agreement.

Other business

In other business during the meetings, the Board:

  • Heard updates from Faculty Senate Chair Robin Muhammad, President Nellis, Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer.
  • Approved additions to three existing quasi-endowments: The Russ Vision Scholarship Match Program ($500,000), the Edison Research Quasi-Endowment ($3 million), and the Strategic Research Enhancement Quasi-Endowment ($2 million).
  • Changed the name of the Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program in the Department of Human and Consumer Services in the Patton College of Education to the Retail and Fashion Merchandising program.
  • Suspended the Associate in Applied Business degree program in Office Administration Technology offered at regional higher education campuses. Completion plans for remaining students in the program have been drafted.
  • Changed the name of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree in the Honors Tutorial College to the Bachelor of Science in Advanced Computing. The program is supported by the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
  • Elected Janelle Coleman as Chair and Cary Cooper as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the year beginning May 14, 2020, ending May 13, 2021.
  • Issued a strong statement of support for President Nellis and his leadership team.

The full agenda for the May Board of Trustees meeting can be found on the Trustees’ website.