News and Announcements

OHIO Board of Trustees approve Housing Master Plan Phase II construction; hear revitalized mission and vision statement

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved new construction for OHIO’s Housing Master Plan Phase II and learned about the experiential learning opportunities that the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program has offered OHIO students during meetings on Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5, on the Athens Campus.
The Board also received an update from President Lori Stewart Gonzalez regarding the progress of the Dynamic Strategy process after committee leaders presented their ideas and findings to the community in February. The final draft of the Dynamic Strategy goals and strategies will be presented for the Board’s approval during their June meeting. She also highlighted the success of the President’s Opportunity Promise so far, noting that, to date, applications are up 21 percent in the counties impacted by this program.
President Gonzalez invited Vice President for University Communications and Marketing and co-chair of the Mission and Vision Refresh Committee Robin Oliver to share a draft version of the committee’s revitalized Mission and Vision.
Last fall, President Gonzalez charged a small group of University leaders and experts with the task of reviewing and refreshing the University Mission and Vision, which was last fully updated in 2007. Since then, the committee has engaged with numerous University stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, in a variety of ways. Such broad feedback uncovered several common themes, including a desire to focus on student success, value and experiential learning.
Oliver shared that a draft version of the University's revitalized Mission and Vision will live on the University's existing Mission and Vision page before being shared again with the Board in June 2024 for final review and approval.
In addition, Vice President for Human Resources Mary Elizabeth Miles presented to the Board priorities within the department which include evaluating employee benefits, policies and programs; increasing professional development opportunities and leadership development programs; developing OHIO onboarding processes; and formalizing and increasing employee recognition. She also shared how her team is working to streamline Human Resource processes and serve as strategic partners for all OHIO employees.
Additional highlights from the Board of Trustees’ April 4-5 meetings included:
Student Experiential Learning
Professor Sarah Wyatt and OHIO students from the winning team whose experiments were selected for Mission 19 to the International Space Station (ISS) presented to the Board on the experiential learning opportunities students have received through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).
The students from this winning team, Victoria Swiler, Nathan Smith, and Michael Lane, presented to the Board how their experiment studies plant micro interactions in space, explaining how space is not very hospitable for plants and their goal to find a way to increase plant growth in space. They described how previously bacteria was discovered on the ISS with the potential to improve plant growth and through their project, they are aiming to grow plants with bacterium in space to see if this increases plant growth.
In addition, the students explained how through this project they are getting every aspect of a research study under their belts before they even graduate undergrad. They created the proposal, run the experiment in which they will talk with astronauts on the progress of the experiment, analyze the plants and will report out their findings.
Enrollment update
The Board heard a brief update on OHIO’s spring 2024 preliminary census enrollment and fall-to-spring return rates from Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace J. Boeninger, who noted that spring enrollment is up 4.3 percent from last year and OHIO’s fall-to-spring return rate was 94.2 percent –up 1.4 percent compared to this time last year.
Boeninger also provided an update to the Board on the Department of Education’s ongoing changes to FAFSA and difficulties with the 2024-25 FAFSA rollout. Although the Department is currently working to remediate technical and data issues, which have delayed the ability of colleges and universities across the country to produce financial aid offers, Boeninger shared that OHIO currently intends to get financial aid packages out to new families by the end of the month and will immediately work to get packages out to returning students soon after.
Housing Master Plan Phase II – New Construction
The Board approved an increase in the overall budget of the Housing Master Plan Phase II, extending funds into the construction and authorizing approval to begin construction in the next month.
The new construction of a 591-bed residence hall on South Green that will meet the evolving needs and expectations of today’s students and their families as part of the Housing Master Plan Phase II. The goal of the plan is to further enhance OHIO students’ overall residential experience for many years to come.
The new residence hall, which will be the largest on campus, will feature pod-style residential communities with emphasis on community and common space, a blend of single and double rooms to meet the requests of student residents, the inclusion of huddle rooms for private conversations and quiet study, kitchen and lounge space to foster community, single-user restrooms and a multipurpose space on the ground floor open to support campus programs.
Approved by the Board in 2022, the Housing Master Plan was created to help shape and guide the University’s ongoing improvement of and investment in the residential infrastructure across the Athens campus through a combination of new construction and major and minor renovation projects. This $110.5 million project is anticipated to be funded by Housing departmental reserves and external financing. 
Heritage Translational Research Center
The Board approved to increase the budget of the Heritage Translational Research Center by $8 million to help promote and provide a functional and flexible translational research environment that elevates OHIO’s research profile and aligns with the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s 2030 strategic priorities.
The goal of the facility is to promote team science by bringing like-minded research teams together in one space while enhancing the visibility of OHIO’s research efforts to students, throughout the University, and to the community and region.
The center will serve multiple colleges and institutes throughout the entire University including the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI), the Diabetes Institute, and the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI), all within the Heritage College, as well as the Appalachian Institute to Advance Health Equity Science (ADVANCE) in the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP).
The Heritage Translational Research Facility is anticipated to provide space for human subject research and basic science research and include consultation and exam rooms along with a wet lab and animal care facility. It will also house OHIO’s Clinical and Translational Research Unit (CTRU), the administrative offices of several institutes and the Heritage College’s Office of Research and Grants and have community health space that includes a pharmacy.
 This $74.9 million total project is anticipated to be funded by internal bank financing, grants, departmental reserves and central University funding.
Capital Projects
In addition to the Housing Master Plan Phase II and Heritage Translational Center, the Board also approved several new capital projects, including:
  • Russ Research Opportunity Center Room 180 Fit Out – The Board approved the development of an effective and efficient research environment for several active and pending sponsored research projects in the newly completed Russ Research Center. This $1.5 million project is anticipated to be funded by the Russ College of Engineering and Technology departmental funding.
  • Athena Cinema Structural Stabilization – The Board approved to stabilize a structural issue discovered during routine maintenance. This project is a continuation of the repairs that began in May of 2023. Currently, the second floor and lobby of the theater is open for patrons, with the rest of the theater anticipated to open mid to late summer. The $850,000 project is anticipated to be funded by century bond emergency project funding and central University funding.
  • West Green Gulch Bridges Repair and Repaint – The Board approved to repair a pedestrian bridge on West Green that is in a state of disrepair and will also remove a second pedestrian bridge that is no longer needed. This $558,000 project is anticipated to be funded by century bond.
  • Lin Hall Third Floor Renovation The Board approved to provide a gallery and learning laboratory for student and alumni engagement to highlight OHIO’s research and creative activity. Renovation of the OHIO Museum Complex space on the third floor of Lin Hall will include refinishing the floors, walls and ceilings in rooms 310 and 311, the third-floor corridor and the stairs to the third and fourth floors. This $500,000 project is anticipated to be funded by external grant funding.
University Advancement Fundraising and Engagement Report
Interim Vice President for University Advancement and President and CEO of the Ohio University Foundation and Vice President for Student Affairs Lyn Redington provided the Board with an update on fundraising and engagement, highlighting Advancement’s strategic priorities, as well as key fundraising and engagement activity in support of Ohio University.
The Board learned about how Advancement is measuring engagement through looking at CASE metrics, which is a global, industry-wide framework for collecting alumni engagement data. The metrics look at alumni who engaged with their alma mater across four modes of engagement: volunteer, experiential, communication and philanthropic.
She also highlighted the ways in which alumni are connecting with OHIO and how the institution intends to further foster engagement as the University looks forward to its annual OHIO Giving Day on April 9.
In other business, the Board also approved:
  • A resolution to change the name of the World Religions program in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences to Religious Studies.
  • A resolution to change the name of the Sport and Lifestyle Studies program in the Department of Recreation, Sport Pedagogy and Consumer Sciences in the Patton College of Education to Recreation and Sport Services.
  • A resolution to establish a Bachelor of Science degree in Cybersecurity Operations in the J. Warren McClure School of Engineering Communication Technologies in the Scripps College of Communication.
  • A resolution to approve land exchange of approximately 0.23-acres on Moore Avenue in Athens with the Ohio University Credit Union (OUCU).
  • A resolution to approve to issue up to $75 million of new debt in support of Housing Phase II new construction.
  • A resolution to elect Steve Casciani Chair of the Board of Trustees for the year beginning May 14, 2024, and ending May 13, 2025.
  • A resolution to elect Trustee Scott Borgemenke as First Vice Chair and Trustee Matt Evans Second Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the year beginning May 14, 2024, and ending May 13, 2025.
  • A resolution to increase the program fee for the Masters of Speech Language Pathology and the Doctor of Clinical Audiology from $63 to $75 per credit hour.
  • A resolution to create a new opt-out course fee for BA1000: Introduction to the College of Business to cover the cost of the DiSC assessment.
  • A resolution to increase nursing courses to cover inflation for passthrough certification.
  • A resolution to increase the course fees for flight courses in Aviation by 10 percent to cover inflation.
  • A resolution to change the current reduced OHIO Online instructional fee from $304 to $316 per credit hour.
The complete Board of Trustees agenda from the April 4-5 meetings is available online at
April 5, 2024
Staff reports