Board of Trustees holds spring meeting
Ohio University Trustees heard plans for large-scale dorm renovations, approved tuition, fee recommendations
Apr 19, 2010
From staff reports
At its quarterly meeting on Friday, the Ohio University Board of Trustees discussed and reviewed Ohio University's current condition and plans for its future.
Among the topics introduced, the Board of Trustees heard options for funding scenarios to renovate up to 19 residences halls on the Athens campus South Green, which represent one-third of the university?s total housing stock.
The halls were constructed between 1965 and 1970 and have not undergone major renovations since that time. The university wants to turn them into affordable, high-quality living environments for students, supporting its academic mission and recruitment and retention efforts.
?A large part of what draws people to Ohio University is our beautiful Athens campus and the residential living experience for our students,? said C. Robert Kidder, board chair. ?The administration has brought us four different approaches to funding these needed renovations. We will continue to evaluate what the optimal approach will be.?
The four options presented today were:
- Issue general bonds to finance improvements that would be delivered through a conventional construction method
- Create a separate but affiliated entity to issue debt and fund the improvements that would be delivered through a conventional construction method
- Lease property to a private developer who would use corporate debt or equity to finance the project
- Sell property to a private developer who would finance and construct the improvements
A universitywide committee has been working for a year to define the project scope. They are currently assessing companies to help them better understand needs and options, and will bring a recommendation to President Roderick J. McDavis later this year for his consideration and for presentation to the Board of Trustees for approval.
Board Approves 2011 Tuition and Fee Changes
Facing a $2.1 million increase in employee health care costs, $1.4 million increase in utility costs, $10.5 million decrease in state funding and a nearly $374,000 reduction in grant dollars, the board of trustees approved tuition and fee changes for fiscal year 2011.
The increases included a 3.5 percent tuition and general fee increase for Athens undergraduates, 2 percent increase in the Athens student dining fee and a 2.5 percent increase in the Athens housing fee, resulting in a total increase of $179 per in-state undergraduate student per quarter. The state of Ohio had authorized a maximum 3.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to help universities respond to reduced state funding.
The resources provided by the tuition and fee increases will be invested in top strategic priorities of Vision Ohio, including strengthening undergraduate education; recruiting and retaining students, faculty and staff; and enriching the environment.
Kidder said the increase in tuition and fees was a difficult decision. ?We must be fiscally responsible while continuing to keep Ohio University affordable and accessible to students,? he said. ?We believe the university reached a good compromise by limiting the increases to a total of $179 per quarter while still being able to respond to increased expenses and a decrease in state support.?
Other Recommended Budget Changes
The board discussed and voiced support for $13.75 million in budget reallocations proposed by President McDavis. The recommendations focus on supporting Vision Ohio strategic priorities.
These included a $4.9 million net reduction (6.24 percent) to support units. This would be done through a reduction or elimination of services, events and activities. There was also a $8.8 million net reduction (5.43 percent) to academic units through the elimination, reduction, reorganization or realignment of academic programs to enhance efficiency.
?The university community worked collaboratively on the budget reallocations to keep the core academic mission as the top priority. The board approved these recommendations because they support the university?s mission of continued academic excellence and accessibility,? said Kidder.
The board?s action today was limited to discussing reallocation recommendations. The entire university budget will be approved at the June board meeting.
McDavis announced the top strategic priorities in Vision Ohio, the university?s comprehensive strategic plan. The priorities include:
- Effective short- and long-term enrollment planning
- Improve institution?s financial strength
- Enhance quality of curriculum
- Bolster graduate education and faculty efforts in research and creative activity
- Institute effective compensation policies and practices for faculty and staff
- Launch a $350 million capital campaign to support core academic initiatives
McDavis also highlighted the university?s sustainability initiatives. Office of Sustainability Director Sonia Marcus provided an overview of the university?s sustainability activities, goals and initiatives.
Faculty member Chuck Hart detailed the integration of sustainability values and learning into the curriculum through active student engagement in the university?s composting project. Student Alana Dakin talked about her experience living in Ohio University?s Eco House, highlighting the effect that experience has had on her undergraduate education.
Finally, the president briefly reviewed the priorities of the capital campaign, planning for which has just recently begun. More specific information will be provided to the board later in the year as planning progresses.
Published: Apr 19, 2010 8:00 AM