Ohio University

Ohio University Board of Trustees discusses FY19 budget, approves guaranteed tuition model for regional campuses

Ohio University Board of Trustees discusses FY19 budget, approves guaranteed tuition model for regional campuses
Published: January 19, 2018 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s Board of Trustees approved the creation of a Guarantee program for regional campus students, as well as tuition and fee changes and a series of capital improvements during its meeting Jan. 19 in Walter Hall.

The Board also heard updates on strategic enrollment and student retention initiatives and the University’s ongoing budget planning as part of its meetings Jan. 18 and 19.

OHIO Guarantee and fee changes

The Board approved a resolution creating the OHIO Guarantee Program for Regional Higher Education, mirroring the Athens Campus’ OHIO Guarantee, an Ohio University initiative designed to provide more financial predictability to students and parents, maintain the value of financial aid, and offer an incentive for students to earn a degree in four years.

The regional campus portion of the program must be approved by the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Education before it can be enacted. If approved, the plan will eliminate the differential rates for the upper and lower division students as well as differing rates across OHIO’s regional campuses. A 6 percent legislated tuition increase allowed in the first year of a guarantee will maintain the competitive rate structure of the regional campuses when compared to surrounding two-year institutions.

The Board also approved tuition, rate and fee increases for the incoming Academic Year 2018-19 cohort.

  • The Ohio Revised Code allows tuition rates to be increased by 1.3 percent, which is equivalent to the 60-month average inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
  • The Board also approved an increase to Athens Campus residential housing rates of 3.5 percent and an increase in Athens Campus Culinary Services rates of 2 percent. Culinary Services has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of meal plans it serves in the past six years, yet has maintained an average increase of 1.1 percent, well below the Food Away from Home Index of 2.4 percent during that time. The room rate for the Housing Development Plan, previously supported by the Board of Trustees, was set to an annual increase of 3.5 percent. The University’s housing program expects a 5 percent increase in utilities and health insurance costs, among other projections. It is important to note that students already enrolled under the OHIO Guarantee would not be impacted by any of these proposed increases.
  • The Board also supported the creation of a career and experiential learning fee, as allowed under the current state of Ohio operating budget, to support state goals of workforce development and job attainment. University leadership recommended the implementation of the fee in order to support OHIO’s commitment to expanding career and leadership development opportunities and programming for students; the revenue from this fee would directly support those efforts. The career and experiential learning fee must be approved by the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education before it can be implemented. If approved, the fee would be assessed at a rate of $6 per credit hour, capped at 12 credit hours, beginning with the Fall 2018 Athens and regional Guarantee student cohorts. Current students would not be impacted.

Capital Improvements

The Board of Trustees approved a series of capital projects, including renovation of the West Union Street Office Center and buildings on the Ridges.

Administrators provided updates on the C-Suite project relocation and the Russ Research Opportunity Center development, as well as the resulting relocation plans for the impacted administrative spaces. Administrators also provided updates on various ongoing campus construction projects.

The Board approved design and construction requests totaling nearly $56 million and include:

  • Russ Research Opportunity Center (West Union Street Office Center renovation): $31 million.
  • Renovations to The Ridges Buildings 13, 14 and 18, and The Ridges Building 20 demolition: $15.9 million.
  • Bromley Hall infrastructure improvements: $7.5 million.
  • Hwa Wei Lee library annex roof/exterior upgrade: $1.1 million
  • Adams Hall waterproofing: $500,000.

Modifications of design and construction requests, with their updated costs, include:

  • Washington Hall domestic water and restroom upgrade: $5.7 million.
  • Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine utilities, Phase 1: $4.37 million.
  • Tiffin/Perkins Hall roof rehabilitation: $2.8 million.
  • Bryan Hall restroom upgrades: $2.45 million.
  • Bush Airport taxiway rehabilitation: $2.27 million.
  • Convocation Center video board installation: $1.98 million.
  • East Green domestic hot water upgrade: $1.7 million.
  • Pickering Hall restroom upgrades: $1.1 million.

Strategic enrollment update

Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management Craig Cornell made a presentation focusing on the draft Strategic Enrollment Management Plan for 2017-2023 and the ways in which the University is positioning itself in the highly competitive marketplace to meet enrollment goals. This includes an overview of key points of the document and enrollment goals for all populations, as well as a discussion of how budget planning and enrollment goals will be handled in the future.

University leadership also presented an overview of efforts to retain students from initial enrollment through graduation, including a series of new initiatives designed to ensure that students at risk of leaving the University before graduation are identified and provided with the necessary assistance to help them complete their degrees.

Graduate Student Parental Leave Policy

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis announced the creation of a new Parental Paid Leave of Absence policy for OHIO graduate students.

The policy, which is anticipated to become effective Fall Semester 2018, will provide funded graduate students the ability to take up to a six-week leave of absence from their appointment responsibilities, and receive 100 percent of the stipend and other benefits associated with their appointment.

The policy also states that such a leave of absence shall not have a negative impact on the graduate student’s future appointment status or academic opportunities.

Other Board Business

In other business, the Board:

  • Approved an Early Retirement Incentive Plan to be offered to eligible faculty, administrative and classified employees on Ohio University’s Regional Campuses (the Vice President of University Outreach and Regional Campuses planning unit). An estimated 106 employees will be eligible to participate.
  • Approved an easement for Five Depot Street to allow for the company’s tenants, Snider Fuller and Stroh, Financial Advisors, who are adjacent to University property, to resurface and improve drainage to its parking lot by making a storm drain connection to a catch basin on Ohio University land. The improvements will create a safer environment for the tenant and its clients, but also for OHIO students and staff who routinely cross the parking lot.
  • Affirmed the University’s Final Action Report on Duplicate Programs. The state-mandated report determined that associate and bachelor degree programs identified as being duplicative within southeast Ohio have been assessed and are not targeted or being considered for action.
  • Approved resolutions creating a Master of Science in Business Analytics program in the College of Business and a Master of Art in Law, Justice and Culture degree in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Approved the deletion of the athletic training pre-major and athletic training major in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, as the program is being converted into a professional master program. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education requires that all professional athletic training programs be offered at the master’s level by 2022.
  • Approved a resolution changing the name of the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition to the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science, to avoid confusion with the Applied Nutrition major program name.
  • Accepted program reviews for the Modern Languages and Philosophy programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Dance program in the College of Fine Arts, and the Cutler Scholars program in the Honors Tutorial College.
  • Delegated the authority to administer all Ohio University retirement plans to the Vice President of Finance and Administration or that office’s designee.