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Academics Committee covers semester transition, other topics

Oct 3, 2008  
From staff reports   

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl gave the Ohio University Board of Trustees' Academics Committee an update on plans to transition to a semester system, which the committee will recommend to the full board today.

The Quarters to Semesters Transition Team has been meeting to discuss the potential timeline, constraints and principles the university will work within during this conversion. The timeline -- from planning to implementation -- is estimated at four years. The first classes under a semester system are expected to begin in 2012.

"What are the unintended consequences (of a switch to semesters)?" Committee Chairwoman M. Marnette Perry asked. "Would this cause freshmen not to come here?"

Krendl said she did not believe there would be a major impact since every university in Ohio will be on a semester system. In addition to Ohio University, Wright State University, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University (all of which now plan to transition in 2012), two-year colleges also are poised to switch to semesters.

Responding to a question from committee member Norman Dewire, Krendl said one-time faculty and staff costs associated with the curriculum redesign and transition are estimated at $2 million. A budget outlining the costs and compensation is being developed and will be reviewed by the Quarters to Semesters Transition Team.

"These are one-time only funds designated to compensate people for their time," Krendl said. Additional costs will be incurred as a result of information technology upgrades and the implementation of a new Student Information System (SIS). Krendl said the University of Cincinnati had a preliminary estimate of $13 million in transition costs, which would include an upgrade of its SIS.

Vision OHIO progress tracking

Interim Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives Ann Fidler and Information Technology representative Bret Swart informed the committee on the university's efforts to keep track of progress in the Five Year Vision OHIO Implementation Plan. They demonstrated an online project management tool through which responsible parties will update their progress on Vision OHIO initiatives.

"This will help us to understand where we are putting our resources to determine where we are being effective," Fidler said.

Regional campus recruitment

Krendl also reviewed pilot programs to increase enrollment on the regional campuses. The promotions were credited, in part, for enrollment growth of about 550 students on the regional campuses this fall. Krendl described promotions for tuition-free or deeply discounted classes to entice eligible prospects to the Chillicothe, Zanesville and Southern campuses. She also talked about Lancaster's first-year experience efforts and Eastern's "high school invasions," in which faculty take over and teach all classes in a given high school.

Following the report, Perry expressed a challenge for Ohio University's regional campuses "to really be best of class in the state -- to really own this channel of education in Ohio." She asked how that goal could be met.

Krendl said she and others from the Athens campus have been visiting regional campuses to discuss with faculty and staff the recent recommendations of the Task Force for the Future of Regional Campuses. She said those discussions will inform decisions that could meet Perry's challenge.

Although Ohio University "can do better" in embracing and furthering its regional campuses, Krendl said her conversations with others in the state indicate the university already is in a leadership position in regard to regional campuses.

"Who is having an ongoing conversation (with its regional campuses)? We own that one," she said. "Who has the best relationship? We own that one."

UCC digitization project

David Thomas, University Curriculum Council chair, updated the committee on the progress of digitizing and automating current UCC processes for review, approval, changes or deletions of courses. Each year, of the 11,684 courses it tracks, UCC processes up to 200 program changes and thousands of new course and course change requests. The switch to a digitized system would increase efficiency, reduce hours spent and free up resources for other tasks.

This initiative is related an ongoing assessment of general education to ensure courses are appropriate and effective. The current paper process makes it impossible to respond in an effective, timely manner to any expressed need for curriculum changes that may result, Thomas said. The plan is to design the project this quarter, build the digitization and automation system during winter quarter and begin using it in the summer.

Thomas pointed to the strength of the university's general education program, and suggested packaging and marketing it to prospective students and their parents. Thomas noted that the program covers six areas of broad study in the Tier 2 component, while other universities generally offer five.

Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Assessment Mike Williford discussed how surveys can better assist in general education assessment. He said survey data from 2001 (the most recent available) captured alumni views five years after graduation. Future surveys also should include feedback from faculty and departments. The process would take longer, he said, but would yield more in-depth information to evaluate the gen ed curriculum's effectiveness. The committee will discuss this further at a future meeting.

A look at affordability

Following up on a request, Krendl and Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell shared a report on Ohio University's affordability in relation to other University System of Ohio institutions.

Preliminary data from 2007-08 from the Inter-University Council puts the university's out-of-pocket costs for first-time, full-time, subsidy-eligible freshmen at $6,878. The state average is $6,084, while the high (not including Miami University) is the University of Akron at $7,146 and the low is the University of Toledo at $4,846. Cornell said including Miami's information would skew the comparison because its tuition model is different, making it difficult to conduct an "apples-to-apples" comparison.

In a comparison of tuition (again, not including Miami), Ohio University's figure of $8,907 was second to Bowling Green ($9,060) and slightly ahead of Ohio State ($8,676). The average is $7,596.

Based on the number of students eligible for federal Pell grants, the family incomes of Ohio University students are third in the state, behind those of Miami and Ohio State, respectively.

In a comparison of universities' discount rate, which is determined by combining internal and external aid and dividing it by tuition, Ohio University's rate is $2,029 per eligible, full-time dependent freshman. The highest discount rate (other than Miami's) is the University of Toledo's ($3,081) and the lowest is the University of Akron's ($1,237).

The committee will discuss affordability further in future meetings.



Related Links
Resources Committee discussion reflects uncertain economy: http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/08-09/October/88.cfm 
Committees discuss faculty representation, internal controls:  http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/08-09/October/91.cfm  
Ohio University Board of Trustees:  http://www.ohio.edu/trustees/  

Published: Oct 3, 2008 10:53 AM  

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