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Ohio University Board of Trustees receive updates on OHIO’s distinctive place-based initiatives, student experiences in College of Business’s investment program

The Ohio University Board of Trustees heard a number of student-focused updates, including OHIO’s ongoing development of opportunities for increased place-based learning and how experiential learning in the world of investing and the stock market is impacting students, during meetings on Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20, on the Athens campus.

The Board also approved the naming of the new translational research building, the Heritage Translational Research Center, on Union Street Green in recognition of the generosity of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation and its continued commitment to advancing osteopathic medical education and translational research at OHIO.

President Lori Stewart Gonzalez shared her experiences from Homecoming and her first few months serving as President, highlighting her investiture on Wednesday, Oct. 18 where she announced the new President’s Opportunity Promise Award, which will increase higher education access for qualifying Pell-eligible students in Athens County, and all contiguous Ohio counties, to attend Ohio University tuition-free.

Additionally, College of Fine Arts Dean Matthew Shaftel and Marching 110 Director Richard Suk shared an update on the Marching 110 and its ongoing celebration of 100 years of musicianship and musical excellence. The presentation included testimonies from students and an alum who talked about how the band has provided them with unparalleled engagement and leadership opportunities – while driving their decision to choose OHIO.

Additional highlights from the Board of Trustees’ October meeting included:

Learning and leading in a place-based space

Associate Professor of Instruction Michelle O’Malley and Associate Vice President for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving Jennifer Bowie discussed a place-based learning pilot for OHIO Honors Program students in Grand Teton National Park. They discussed the development of a new Ecology of Leadership certificate and plans for offering it at several locations, including the Everglades and Appalachian Laurel Highlands.

During their presentation, the group led the Board in an activity in which the students and Board members discussed the various places that have influenced them – an exercise that the students had previously experienced as part of their program at the Teton Science Schools.

The Board also learned about the next steps in the development of a distinctive place-based curriculum and heard from Professor of Economics Julie Paxton about her place-based collaborations with local non-profits and businesses and C courses, or community engagement courses.

Paxton explained how C courses allow students to collaborate with community partners as part of a structured class, such as her “Economics of Poverty” and “Economics of Altruism” courses. She also spoke about how this type of course is mutually beneficial for both the community and students engaging in the work.

OHIO Student Investment Programs

The Board received an update on the performance and progress of the OHIO Student Investment Programs, which are two OHIO student organizations that are gaining hands-on experiential learning opportunities through the management of approximately $10.8 million of the University’s long-term working capital pool.

Both groups, Student Equity Management Group (SEMG) and the Fixed Income Management Group (FIMG), operate under the direct supervision of Associate Professor of Finance David Stowe and receive administrative oversight by Chief Investment Officer David Gaume.

The Board heard from four students who are part of the investment programs and learned how the groups continue to maintain strong financial performance relative to their benchmarks while continuing a professional operation that allows for ownership, responsibility and real-world experiences.

Enrollment update

Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace J. Boeninger provided an update on preliminary census enrollment data for fall 2023, noting that total enrollment across OHIO increased for the first time in several years, coming in at 28,324 students University-wide, a 2.5% increase over last year.

Boeninger discussed this year’s record-breaking first-year class which boasted 4,517 students and how first-year student retention played an integral role in the overall enrollment increase as well. According to her, OHIO’s retention rates have historically outperformed national averages among public universities and this year was the highest amount of retention for students since 2003.

She also highlighted important gains in OHIO’s online and regional campus populations, including that OHIO had the highest single-year rate retention on regional campuses since 2006.

Another key point was how OHIO saw a near record in Athens’ first-year student applications at more than 25,000 for Fall 2023, noting that OHIO’s selectivity slightly increased, with admit rates slightly decreasing at 85 percent. This academic quality of this year’s incoming class also increased with more students having higher GPAs and being in the top 25 percent in their graduating high school class.

Capital projects

The Board approved several new capital projects, including:

  • Clippinger Renovation Phase III – The Board approved a budget amendment of $3.25 million to address unforeseen conditions related to precast concrete wall panels and fit out two Biochemistry labs which were previously planned as shell space. This $41.2 million project is funded by bond series 2020, state capital appropriations, century bond deferred maintenance and emergency funds, strategic reserves and capital safety funds.
  • Ohio University Zanesville Herrold Hall Nursing Labs Renovation II – The Board approved the renovation and reconfiguration of approximately 4,600 square feet of space to create three nursing simulation labs, two testing labs and two tech support spaces, as well as upgrades to restrooms, lighting and addition supporting infrastructure. This $1.4 million project is funded by internal bank financing.
  • Campus Roadway Improvements FY24-FY25 – The Board approved to rehabilitate high priority roadways on the Athens campus as identified by a study looking at the conditions of approximately 6.6 miles of roadway Ohio University owns on the Athens campus and create a multi-year investment plan to rehabilitate the roadways. This $1.05 million project is funded by century bond deferred maintenance.

In other business, the Board also approved:

  • A name change from the Bachelor of Data Analytics to the Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics in University College.
  • A resolution to rename the Walter International Education Center, located at 15 Park Place, to the Walter Student Success Center to recognize the space as a central hub for undergraduate students in all colleges to seek advising, career coaching and experiential learning support.
  • A resolution for the FY23 Efficiency Report to be submitted to the Chancellor of Higher Education.
  • A resolution for President Lori Stewart Gonzalez to be the signatory on all matters required by law and authorized to approve all policies and procedures of the university; all policies and procedures relating to the operations of the Faculty and Administrative Senates; the granting to faculty of tenure and promotions.
  • A resolution to end withholding transcripts due to financial debts.
  • A resolution to review the Environmental and Plant Biology program in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • A resolution to review eight different centers and institutes, including the Diabetes Institute in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine; the Center for Advanced Systems and Transportation Logistics Engineering, the Avionics Engineering Research Center, the Center for Scientific Computing and Immersive Technology, and the Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology, all in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology; WOUB Center for Public Media in the Scripps College of Communication; and the Edison Biotechnology Institute and the Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics under the Vice President of Research and Creative Activity.
  • A resolution to establish University Policy 1.041 addressing freedom of expression on campus and setting forth a process for the redress of related grievances.

The complete Board of Trustees agenda from the Oct. 19-20 meetings is available online at

October 20, 2023
Staff reports