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Friday, September 10, 2004
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Ohio University announces Urban Scholars Program

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 10, 2004) -- Ohio University announced the creation of the Urban Scholars Program at the university's Board of Trustees meeting today. The program is designed to increase the university's diversity by enhancing opportunities for Ohio's urban high school students to enroll and succeed at the university.

The program will provide scholarship support for graduates of urban school districts who demonstrate excellent academic achievement and financial need.

Preliminary goals of the program include recruiting and supporting 10 Urban Scholars who will begin classes at Ohio University in the fall of 2005 and eventually supporting 100 new scholars annually by providing support for tuition and fees, which are currently $7,770 a year for in-state students).

"This program is designed to target that tier of students who sometimes get missed as universities compete for the top percentage of members of underrepresented student populations," Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said. "This approach allows us to focus on some of our diversity challenges in a unique way. By offering scholarships to students from Ohio's inner cities who really want to go to college and want the opportunity to succeed, we renew our commitment to promoting an atmosphere where understanding and accepting cultural differences is a top priority."

In other action before the board:

  • Interim Provost Kathy Krendl presented a report that is the result of a recent retreat that focused on the first-year experience of students at Ohio University. Suggestions to further improve the first-year experience include the regular convening of an informal institution-wide committee that would meet to share information, formulate and propose improvements and learn from campuses that share the same institutional culture and demographic profile as Ohio University. Efforts to identify strategies for improving the first year are part of a larger plan to enhance the undergraduate learning environment in general.

  • The board passed a resolution presented by Vice President for Research Jack Bantle in support of establishing a diabetes-endocrine center under the umbrella of the Appalachian Rural Health Institute (ARHI). The center will provide an environment to conduct high-quality research on diabetes and related health issues. In addition, the center will expand the ongoing research on diabetes and related diseases to educate both students and the community on diabetes and related diseases and address the problems of diabetic healthcare in Appalachian Ohio. It is anticipated that the diabetes-endocrine program will expand to collaborate with other universities. It will establish itself as a nationally and internationally recognized site of research, education and clinical excellence. Primary funding comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

  • The board authorized the establishment of the Astrophysical Institute. The university has experts in the area of astrophysics and the institute will be one of a small number of research institutes at the university addressing fundamental questions concerning the nature of the physical world and the only one related to the large-scale structure of the universe. "The astrophysics faculty has a proven record of successfully competing in the national arena for federal funding and for access to premier research facilities," Bantle explained.

    The astrophysics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy has improved the university's astronomy curriculum, involved students in leading research and has grown into a vigorous collaboration of faculty with active research programs that make use of some of the premier observational facilities of the world. Much of the funding will come from the National Science Foundation and NASA.

  • The board accepted the reviews of the seven-year academic programs completed during 2003-2004 by the University Curriculum Council. Reviews for counseling and higher education, criminal justice, environmental studies, finance, management information systems, medical assisting technology and theater were included in the resolution passed by the board. The reviews included commendations as well as recommendations for improving program quality.

  • Bantle presented the five-year review of centers and institutes. The board accepted the recommendations that the Academic Advancement Center be continued; the studies of the Appalachian Rural Health Institute, Center for Automatic Identification Education and Research, and the Center for Higher Education be extended; studies of the Center for International Business Education and Development and Institute for the African Child be extended through fall quarter 2004; and the Center for Information Technology Education and the Center for Innovation Technology for Learning be discontinued.

    The Center for Innovation in Technology for Learning has expanded its function beyond the center's original scope, and its functions are being repositioned to other areas of the university.

  • The board approved increasing the competitive bid limits for services and construction from $25,000 to $50,000. The change reduces the administrative burden on the Procurement Services staff, precluding the need for overtime or additional staff. Since smaller purchases far outnumber larger purchases, the increase in bid limits would reduce the number of processed bids by 33 percent while affecting only 3 percent of the funds involved. The bid limits were last changed in July of 2000 and this adjustment puts Ohio University in line with other similar sized state universities in Ohio.

  • Trustees authorized the proposed 2005 internal audit plan for the period of September 2004 to August 2005. This plan includes a series of 12 audits. The board also received and reviewed the 2004 activity report presented by Director of Internal Audit Kathryn Gilmore. The report noted staffing activity, work plan performance and finances.

  • Bantle presented the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs' Awards Report for fiscal year 2004. The number of research proposals and awards has grown steadily over the years. During fiscal year 2004, the office submitted 937 research proposals and received 673 awards for $56.4 million in research. That compares to FY 1997, when the office submitted 652 proposals and received 465 awards totaling $34.4 million in research.

    The College of Arts and Sciences led all colleges in receiving external funds with nearly $18 million in awards. Other colleges showing gains from the previous year were the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and the colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Health and Human Services.

    Ohio University received $2.3 million in royalty payments, and faculty applied for 18 patents. Six patents were issued to the university during the past year. Bantle said that the further investment in new faculty and funding of several university research priority projects will help to encourage additional growth in research.

  • It was reported that unrestricted educational and general fund revenues increased by $27 million while expenses increased by $19 million over the prior fiscal year. Expenses were less than revenues, largely due to cost savings associated with the Early Retirement Incentive Plan and general cost reductions by planning units.

  • Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Larry Corrigan reported that the composite return on the university's and Ohio University Foundation's long-term investments of 12.40 percent in fiscal year 2004 was the best return since fiscal year 1998.

  • Between May 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004, 192 university employees opted for the Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP), which allows classified, bargaining unit and administrative employees with certain levels of service and/or age to retire early as an effort to reduce expenses. Of the 192 positions, 27 were filled by employees displaced by the privatization of the medical center, for a net 165 positions. A total of 63 of those positions have been abolished and to reach the stated goal of not filling 50 percent of the vacated positions (83 positions), an additional 20 positions will need to remain unfilled, which is expected to occur. ERIP will result in annual savings of more than $3.3 million.

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Media Contact: Associate Vice President for University Communications and Marketing Hub Burton, (740) 593-2200 - Office; (740) 290-4479 - Pager

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