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Board shares evaluation of president, OKs resolution on faculty representation

Jan 23, 2009  
From staff reports   

The Ohio University Board of Trustees today presented the results of a comprehensive presidential evaluation and took action on resolutions that will help the university enhance shared governance and navigate difficult economic times.

Chair C. Daniel DeLawder said the results of the evaluation reaffirmed the trustees? decision to renew President Roderick J. McDavis? contract and offered solid guidance for moving the university forward in a productive way.

Terry MacTaggart, a senior fellow with the Association of Governing Boards, conducted the review, speaking with about 85 people representing a cross-section of the Ohio University community and its stakeholders.

The report includes themes that shed light on how McDavis? work and leadership is perceived, both positive and negative. It also emphasized that remaining strong in the current economic environment will mean focusing on undergraduate education and other core university strengths, addressing the university?s business model and engaging the entire university community in those efforts.

?I embrace the report, I embrace its recommendations,? McDavis said, vowing to work with the campus community to carry them out. The president said he plans to spend more time interacting with groups across campus and will hold office hours at least once a month.

?This challenges us to put aside our individual differences and come together as we have never come together before,? he said. ?You have heard me say, we are one community. ? But we can?t be one community unless we take the time to sit down and talk, not only to understand where we disagree but where we agree. ? We will look back and say this is a new beginning, this is our chance to move forward.?

A copy of the full evaluation is available here (in PDF format).

Faculty representation

In other action at its meeting at Ohio University-Eastern in St. Clairsville, the board introduced and passed a resolution to invite two faculty members to join board committees as ex-officio members. The resolution additionally stipulated that the chairman of the board can ?invite these faculty representatives to serve on additional committees or in such other capacities as he or she deems appropriate.?

Faculty Senate Vice Chair David Thomas, who has been central to bringing this issue to a successful conclusion, said he was pleased with the decision.

?Make no mistake about it, this is a major step forward in enhancing faculty-trustee communications,? he told Outlook. ?This action has given us an important opportunity. ... The door is open for responsible participation.?

Retirement, separation incentives

The board also passed a resolution to grant McDavis the authority to institute incentive retirement or separation plans after Gov. Ted Strickland releases his biennial budget in early February.

The measures are designed to reduce compensation expenses and minimize mandatory layoffs if the economic climate further deteriorates or the state is forced to cut funding to higher education, officials said. The resolution was necessary because the plans may need to be established before the next board meeting.

In other official action, the board approved:


  • The issuance of a $30 million in bonds to finance implementation of a new Student Information System (SIS) and a next-generation network upgrade. The projects will cost an estimated $41.4 million, with the university proposing to cover most of the remaining costs through a second bond issuance of about $5.9 million in 2012. University officials still have the authority to choose smaller, more frequent bond issuances should that prove to be more fiscally sound at the time of issuance. A quarterly student technology fee will pay for half of the yearly debt expenses while budget reallocations will cover the rest.

    "This is a transformational investment for the university," DeLawder said.

    The current SIS pre-dates the Internet. The new system will use Oracle's PeopleSoft application, enabling self-service interactions that Internet users have come to expect. Meanwhile, updating the network will allow the university to meet the demands of advanced online academic and research services.

  • A revised plan to fund the construction of the Academic Research Center. An existing gift from the Dolores Russ estate was expected to contribute interest earnings toward completing the project. However, stock market troubles have erased those anticipated contributions. The $7.4 million funding gap will be bridged instead with a combination of funds from the Russ College of Engineering, the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Russ Research Center and an internal university loan. The internal loan will be repaid from earnings derived from the Russ estate and the Russ Research Center.

  • Designation of the Office of the University Chief Information Officer as the area with leadership, responsibility and control of Ohio University?s information technology resources and access to potentially sensitive information. CIO Brice Bible explained Thursday that with the plethora of programs used across the university, it makes sense for his office to take the lead in this area in order to minimize IT security risks.

  • Construction and renovation project approval guidelines. These state that projects with a budget of $500,000 or more must be brought to the board for approval. According to Bill Decatur, senior vice president for finance and administration, the guidelines will help standardize and streamline approvals.

  • Funding for construction projects, including roof replacements for several residence halls, boiler replacements in two New South Green residence halls and Convocation Center bathroom upgrades.

  • A proposal to designate the associate vice president for finance and administration for human resources as the appointing authority for administrative employees. Since 1976, the associate vice president has had that authority for classified workers. The change is intended to ensure consistency in hiring, not remove planning units? ability to make employment decisions. The associate vice president also would have the authority to designate another person to perform this duty in his or her absence.

  • A resolution endorsing the University System of Ohio Accountability and Affordability Reports, which were submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents in November. The USO reports are intended to allow for an easy comparison of Ohio public institutions of higher education. In the Academics Committee meeting Thursday, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell said representatives from Ohio?s public colleges have met with Ohio Board of Regents officials on several occasions to discuss the development of policies aimed at meeting the USO?s accountability goals.

    Regarding affordability, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said comparative data for Ohio?s public universities reveal that Ohio University is currently on the high end in several categories of expense, including tuition and room and board fees. Krendl said a comprehensive comparative analysis of college affordability would be made available at the next Academics Committee meeting.

  • Revisions to the Board of Trustees? Audit Committee charter, updating it with committee composition, its purpose and responsibilities, which include external and internal audits, internal controls and compliance.

  • Updates to the Internal Audit Office charter with the title change and reporting responsibilities for the chief audit executive. The changes also update the title of executive vice president and provost, and change the requirement for the chief audit executive to present annually to the full Board of Trustees. Going forward, communication to the full board will occur through the chair of the Audit Committee.

  • Language in the Board of Trustees? bylaws to reflect broader responsibilities of the Audit Committee over university accountability and compliance procedures.

  • Tuition and fees for online RN-to-BSN courses packaged specifically for health-care employers to make the instruction available to their staffs.

  • The appointment of David Carter, Dianne Clement and Douglas Freeman as new members of the Coordinating Council of the Southern campus to serve through June 30, 2011.


Related Links
Ohio University Board of Trustees:  http://www.ohio.edu/trustees/ 

Published: Jan 23, 2009 2:47 PM  

Committee highlights 

Here are highlights from board committee meetings Thursday:

Resources committee

Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur detailed challenges that the university faces in crafting the FY 2010 budget, including losses in investment income, cuts to state subsidies and uncertain enrollment figures.

Decatur said Vision OHIO goals will serve as important guides in deciding what areas to prioritize when crafting contingency plans and making difficult budgetary decisions. He indicated that the university will have a better idea of how significant next year?s challenges will be when Gov. Ted Strickland releases his state biennial budget proposal Feb. 3.

Decatur said the university?s investments for fiscal year 2009 were down 23.9 percent as of Nov. 30 as a result of the worldwide financial crisis. He noted that The Ohio University Foundation?s efforts over the past several years to diversify investments resulted in a significantly smaller loss than many of the university?s peer institutions experienced during the same period.

Chris Clifford, senior associate vice president for finance, reported that the university?s Senate Bill 6 ratio, a key measure of an institution?s financial strength, improved to 3.5 in FY 2008 from 3.2 the previous year. This resulted in Ohio University moving from the 12th spot to sixth among Ohio?s public universities.

Howard Lipman, vice president for university advancement, gave an overview of gifts the university has received so far this fiscal year. He indicated that the university is well ahead of projections for its fiscal year 2009 fund-raising goals, despite a struggling economy.
University Advancement also is moving forward with preparations for a capital campaign and expects to have most of the preliminary work done by June 30, he said. That will put the university in a good position to launch a campaign as soon as the economic environment is more favorable.

Academics committee

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles provided an update on the work of the Task Force on Centers of Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, which the university formed to evaluate existing programs and inform decisions on identifying potential centers of excellence at Ohio University.

The task force has provided the provost and deans with initial ratings of the university?s 88 graduate and professional programs. Ratings are based on the programs? self-studies, which evaluated program faculty and students using nine criteria. The final report, which is expected in February, will categorize each graduate program as excellent, good, satisfactory or limited.

Ogles said the ratings likely would help guide what graduate programs the university offers in the future. Krendl added that discussions currently are under way with the college deans on how to address programs rated as limited. Options might include suspending admissions or reallocating resources. Ogles noted that an appeals process through which program representatives could object to ratings already has been established.

The Task Force on Centers of Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education was created in response to Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut?s call that the state?s public universities identify and establish goals for their strongest programs, or ?centers of excellence.? An excellent rating from the task force does not necessarily indicate that a program will be proposed as a state center of excellence, Ogles said, but the rankings will be used to inform the process.

Krendl said forthcoming conversations with Fingerhut would help to clarify the state?s approach to identifying its centers of excellence. At this point, she expects each of the state?s universities to have three to five centers in addition to several programs of distinction.
Krendl also updated the committee on progress to date in year one of the Five Year Vision OHIO Implementation Plan. This is the first of three progress reports that will be compiled at the end of each academic quarter through spring 2009. She shared percentages of tasks completed between July and December 2008 for each of the plan?s six goals. Krendl said the report offers a general idea of progress being made toward specific Vision OHIO tasks, as reported by members of the university community who are accountable for some aspect of each of the goals.

Audit committee

An independent auditor has given Ohio University an unqualified -- or clean -- opinion on its fiscal 2008 financial reports, members of the Audit committee were told.

Committee members were briefed by officials from Plante & Moran, a Southfield, Mich.-based accounting firm that conducted the audit, and discussed progress on internal audit objectives, such as stepping up fraud investigations and strengthening communication and prevention measures. Committee members also examined a new internal audit ?scorecard?? designed to track internal investigations, progress and actions.

In preparing the audit, the firm also considered the adequacy of the university?s internal controls -- processes that prevent and detect fraud and protect an organization?s resources. While the firm found no significant deficiencies or material weakness in Ohio University?s internal controls, Plante & Moran officials recommended several areas in which controls could be improved.

For example, the auditors noted that the university?s cell phone policy is applied inconsistently across units. The university also has more than 200 cash collection points for things such as ticket purchases for plays and office lunches; reducing that number would minimize risk, officials said. In another point, the firm noted that the university should consider investing in software that would allow for easier review and completion of monthly investment reconciliation reports for the institution as well as The Ohio University Foundation.

Responding to committee members? questions, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur said the university already is working on ways to address cell phone usage and cash collections.

Senior Associate Vice President for Finance Chris Clifford said one way the university intends to tackle collection point issues and accurate reporting of cash is through staff training through the Office of the Bursar.

--From staff reports



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