From staff reports
The Ohio University Board of Trustees' Governance and Audit committees met Thursday.
The committee heard a report on faculty representation on university boards of trustees.
Faculty Senate approved a resolution in 2006 calling for a nonvoting faculty member on the board. Though the trustees are not the body that acts on Faculty Senate resolutions, board Chairman C. Daniel DeLawder and President Roderick J. McDavis asked for more information to help guide the board.
A survey conducted as part of the research included the other 12 public universities in Ohio and nine aspirational peer institutions. Of those, two of the Ohio schools -- Cleveland State University and the University of Toledo -- have nonvoting faculty representatives. Three of Ohio University's aspirational peers have faculty trustees, two with voting rights. The survey also included the University of Kentucky, the Colorado and California state systems, and the University of Florida, all of which have faculty representatives.
As a follow-up to the survey, Faculty Senate Vice Chair David Thomas, board Secretary Tom Davis, Chief of Staff Rebecca Watts and Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl contacted their counterparts at Cleveland State, Toledo, Cincinnati and Auburn, all of which have faculty representatives.
Thomas said each heard similar information: All of the representatives are non-voting members. It was primarily a positive experience, with the main benefit being enhanced communication between faculty and the board. Faculty representatives are beneficial in committees as clarifications are sought and issues remedied, contributing most significantly in discussions related to academics, property and facilities.
Both Thomas and Faculty Senate Chair Sergio Lopez-Permouth told the committee that improved communication is faculty members' main objective in requesting a seat.
"We want to participate in the conversation, not just be there to represent the faculty," he said. "You are making decisions that affect us, and it would be beneficial to have someone who is in the midst of it."
Committee Chair Ned Dewire suggested that additional information is needed and asked that input be sought from institutions without faculty representation since only those with faculty were contacted to date.
"I know of some schools that have voting faculty members on committees, but not the board," he said. "Let's find out how others communicate and the level of involvement of the faculty."
In other business, the committee requested that General Counsel John Biancamano draft a statement on the Board of Trustees' role, standards of practice and the progression of responsibilities for trustees to prepare them for executive committee, vice chair and chair positions.
Chief Audit Executive Kathy Gilmore and Senior Associate Vice President Chris Clifford presented a follow-up report on an internal control environment project to the committee. Internal controls are business procedures designed to promote operational efficiency, implement policies, protect assets, and deter and detect fraud and error.
Gilmore said last year's control self assessment survey, which 54 percent of 3,687 employees answered, helped educate the university community on effective internal controls and identify ways to improve them. The survey evaluated such things as integrity and ethical values, commitment to competence, management philosophy, operating style, organizational structure, assignment of authority and responsibility, and human resource policies and practices.
Clifford, who leads the 15-member Internal Control Environment Committee, said the committee plans 16 projects aimed at making the best use of resources and aligning them with employee and department roles. The committee will begin prioritizing the projects next week.
Gilmore presented the Internal Audit Office's fiscal 2008 activity report. She said the office completed 11 university audits and four investigations and focused on these initiatives:
- Improving the university's internal control environment by working with the Internal Control Environment Improvement Committee
- Sharing best practices with the university community
- Providing detailed audit observations and recommendations to all deans and vice presidents so they can implement control improvements throughout the year
- Assisting the Office of Information Technology with a risk assessment of OIT operations
Gilmore said the Internal Audit Office also coordinated the annual external auditor selection process with the state auditor and continues to administer the EthicsPoint Hotline, which serves as an effective tool for the anonymous reporting of fraud, waste and abuse.