From staff reports
The Ohio University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to negotiate a new five-year contract for President Roderick J. McDavis.
The new contract would run from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2013. It ultimately would be a four-year extension for McDavis, who is in the fourth year of a five-year contract that expires in June 2009.
Strong support for the accomplishments of McDavis and his executive team was a driving force in the contract extension. In particular, trustees expressed satisfaction with McDavis' progress in areas the board considered important when it was searching to fill the position four years ago, such as strategic planning, academic quality, financial improvements, diversity, alcohol initiatives and commitment to the region.
"In McDavis, we've seen strong leadership. We've seen him respond to what this board has asked him to do," Trustee Gene Harris said. "This is the right president for the right time. We are moving forward as the institution is moving forward."
Trustee Frank Krasovec agreed, saying, "We are not only facing the issues, we are ahead of the issues. This is a big vote of confidence not just for Dr. McDavis but for the entire staff."
Members of the board also were united in the desire to bring stability to the university, considering the many other things in flux, including the economy, the launch of the University System of Ohio and the fact that the university is just beginning to implement its five-year Vision OHIO plan. The president and his team, board members said, were in the best position to bring the plan to fruition.
The only dissenting voice was that of Student Trustee Tracy Kelly, who believed a comprehensive review should go forward before trustees negotiate a contract. Others, including Student Trustee Lydia Gerthoffer, respectfully disagreed.
"We didn't develop this (evaluation) policy for this particular situation," Trustee Ned Dewire said.
Trustee Larry Schey agreed, saying the board was given a "tremendous and unprecedented" amount of input from university constituents pertaining to the president's most recent evaluation.
"To say we'll sign a contract without an evaluation is, quite frankly, incorrect," Schey said.
The board also agreed to proceed with a comprehensive evaluation of McDavis after it has successfully negotiated the contract. That evaluation will get broader constituent input than last year's comprehensive evaluation and will most likely seek to identify any areas requiring refinement in the president's focus or performance.
"It's difficult to answer (precisely) because we've not done it before," DeLawder said, emphasizing -- as others did -- that the evaluation process would not be a referendum.
Schey wrapped up the discussion by putting McDavis' accomplishments into a historical perspective, saying the president had taken the reins nearly four years ago at a time of considerable challenge. He reiterated his vote of confidence in McDavis and his leadership team, expressing fears that without this move, the university would see "the exodus of talent from the university that I guarantee you would happen."
"I don't think I could sleep (unless I knew) that I had done the right thing," he added.