Outlook: Ohio University News & Information

Board hears informational items, discusses priorities

Jan 18, 2010
By Katharine Quaranta

At its meeting on Friday, the Ohio University Board of Trustees heard reports on the university community's key strategic priorities. As the university prepares for a reduction in state support, trustees emphasized the need to focus on clearly defined priorities that support the core academic mission. The board discussed the importance of gathering benchmark data to assure that informed decisions are made within the context of the higher education landscape in Ohio and beyond.

Held at the university's Southern Campus, presentations and discussions at the meeting underscored the importance of ensuring access to higher education and service to the southeast Ohio community.

"I am proud to say that I was a part of the regional campus system," said acting Chair and Trustee M. Marnette Perry. "For us as trustees it's important for you to know that we realize that this is mission critical to who we are as a university."

Kelly Hall, interim director of equine studies, highlighted the ways that the Center for Therapeutic Riding on the Southern campus contributes to this mission through partnerships with local agencies and collaborations with dozens of local volunteers. Hall and equine studies major Alecia Carver also explained how riding and caring for horses can significantly affect participants on a physical and emotional level. 

Community member Debbie Helton went on to relay how this program has affected her son Jakob's quality of life. Doctors had told her that Jakob, who was born with cerebral palsy, would never walk. However, when he started the therapeutic riding program, she noticed an immediate improvement in his posture, his confidence and his self-esteem.

"He had so much fun he wanted to take the horse home," she said. "How do you tell a three-year-old that a horse won't fit in a car seat?"

Helton said that Jakob, to the surprise of many, can now walk 250 feet without the help of a walker. She was so impressed with the results that she began taking riding classes and is now herself studying to become a therapeutic riding instructor.

Clearly moved by the presentation, several trustees offered their congratulations to Hall for running such a high-quality program.

"Today's presentation gives me a whole different view of access," said Trustee Gene Harris. "The work we are doing makes us part of changing not only Jakob's life, but the lives of his family and those around him."

In his report, President Roderick J. McDavis updated the board about progress related to other strategic priorities -- including developing a comprehensive strategic enrollment plan, realigning the Office of Information Technology under a unified model and improving the university's financial and curricular strength -- and emphasized the need for transformational change and collaboration in order to weather economic challenges and continually diminishing resources.

"Obviously we want to focus on smart growth, we want strategic growth, we want sustainable growth," he said.

McDavis also acknowledged numerous institutional points of pride, including the Discovery News ranking of Assistant Professor Douglas Clowe's work on dark matter in space as the eighth most important discovery of the decade.

National Trustee Frank Krasovec noted two more pieces of good news by congratulating officials on the $13.3 million gift the university received from alumna Violet L. Patton to establish a new community arts education center and for the $35-41 million the institution stands to receive from the sale of local business Diagnostic Hybrids Inc.

"With all of the difficult issues we deal with, and with all of the clouds, that is the silver lining," said Perry.

Trustees Sandra Anderson, Norman "Ned" Dewire and David Brightbill also discussed their roles in working with Chancellor of the Board of Regents Eric Fingerhut in the development of the University System of Ohio (USO). Along with other trustees in the state, they have been providing input on various USO initiatives, including instituting Centers of Excellence and increasing collaboration among Ohio college and university trustees.

In addition, the board passed:

  • a resolution to change the name of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine to the Institute for Neuromusculoskeletal Research

  • a resolution that authorizes the university to develop construction documents, receive bids and award construction contracts for the Clippinger Hall chilled water piping construction project on the Athens campus and for an addition to the Technical Studies building on the Chillicothe campus

  • a resolution electing interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Angelini as the acting treasurer of Ohio University from Jan. 6 to June 30

  • all items on the consent agenda, which included routine items and resolutions that were approved in one motion

The board also heard brief reports from the following committees:


Harris, the academics committee chair, shared highlights from the executive vice president and provost's report on planning for targeted, strategic enrollment growth, on-going academic restructuring and defining and strengthening the university's academic array. She also commended Chief Information Officer Brice Bible and his team for being ahead of schedule and under budget in implementing planned changes to the university's information technology infrastructure.

"There are three words that come to me from a trustee's perspective after hearing those presentations, and those are alignment, process and efficiency," said Harris.


Perry, chair of the resources committee, reported on the university's budget planning process and shared that officials are researching alternative models for some university business processes with a goal of optimal use of resources while still maintaining qualities that are central to the university's identity.

At this point, the university is exploring many options, including public-private partnerships for student housing and contractor-at-risk energy conservation projects. Perry said the board is open to adopting new ways of doing business, but cautioned that the university is still in an information gathering stage. According to Perry, more details should be available at the next board meeting.


Committee Chair Anderson shared that the governance committee worked on developing guidelines for the election of national trustees, amending the board's bylaws and determining the board's meeting dates for the next fiscal year. The committee also heard an update about the nominating process for the next student trustee from current Student Trustee Chauncey Jackson.


Committee Chair Dewire shared information from reports by both Ohio University's internal auditors and Plante and Moran, an independent firm that audited the university's financial statements.

"They found no qualifications...they found nothing to be worried about in all those audits," Dewire said, regarding the Plante and Moran audit.

In committee, Chief Audit Executive Kathy Gilmore reported on ongoing collaborative efforts in which planning units at the university work with Internal Audit (IA) and Information Security (IS) to identify potential risk areas for unprotected data.  IS then performs a robust risk assessment and data purging process on identified risk areas.


Published: Jan 18, 2010 8:54 PM

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