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Thursday, September 18, 2003
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Ohio University Board of Trustees reviews results of retirement initiative designed to cut costs


ATHENS, Ohio -- In an ongoing effort to achieve the most cost-efficient operation possible, Ohio University?s workforce was reduced by 143 staff members from September 2002 to September 2003, it was reported to the Ohio University Board of Trustees during its regular meeting today (Sept. 19).


Key to this initiative, a total of 134 administrative employees have taken advantage of the Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP), which has allowed classified and administrative employees with certain levels of years of service and/or age to accept a $10,000 buyout for early retirement.


In accordance with the Board?s stated goal of not filling at least 50 percent of the vacancies, 49 positions have been abolished and 66 remain open, subject to the universitywide hiring freeze. The ERIP program is part of the University?s plan to contain costs in the wake of reduced state support.


The Board discussed several other items during the formal meeting Friday and committee meetings Thursday.


Provost Stephen Kopp reported that preliminary headcount enrollment indicates the fall enrollment at the Athens campus at 19,959 students, one less than projected. The overall preliminary enrollment, including Lifelong Learning and the five regional campuses, is 28,992, which is 108 more than last year. Enrollment on the regional campuses has increased by 327 students since last year.


The Board approved a formal debt policy that provides a framework of understanding for University administrators, trustees and bond rating agencies. The policy puts the debt into a context where debt dimension can be reviewed and monitored regularly. The University continues to enjoy a highly favorable bond rating of A1.


The Board heard a report discussing two-year and six-year capital improvement projects and priorities. The plan is an outline of how capital priorities will be set, based on high and low ranges of potential state support. A formal submission will be made to the Board of Regents later this month.


The Board approved the issuance of $6.59 million in bonds to support projects involving the planned University Center, the third phase of the performance contract and Lausche Heating Plant.

The Student Center project involves accepting bids for site development, including the relocation of an eight-inch gas line located on the building site, installation of the building?s domestic water line and chilled water service, and the relocation of the storm channel in the old riverbed.

The performance contract will include the completion of the heat recovery system at the Life Sciences Building and the extension of steam, the condensate return, hot water and hot water return to The Ridges to be able to serve those buildings from the central plant. Both of these projects are intended to improve energy performance on the campus.

With the funding earmarked for the Lausche Heating Plant project, two boilers will be rebuilt, the capacity of the baghouse, which collects particulates, will be expanded and a chiller for the University Center will be designed.


The Board also invited Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Thomas Boeh to provide a presentation on the current competitive position of Ohio University?s athletics program. While Boeh noted the program's dedication to the quality of the student-athlete experience and contributions to both the institution and to the region, he also outlined some of the particular challenges faced by Ohio University in seeking to remain competitive at the conference and national levels. Key among them is the ongoing need to identify new sources of funding to support both operational and scholarship priorities.


Citing the University?s current commitment of just 2.7 percent of its overall institutional funding to athletics, Boeh shared with the Board comparisons to league and national averages of total dedicated resources. Currently, Mid-American conference schools fund their athletics programs at an average rate of almost 4 percent of their overall institutional budget while Division I-A programs as a whole allocate 4.7 percent of their institutional funding to intercollegiate athletics.


The Board approved the leasing of a 3.67-acre site owned by the University on State Route 56. The site will be redeveloped by Crescent & Sprague as a plumbing and electrical retail service facility. The site was originally purchased by the University for possible expansion of the motor pool and storage facilities, but it was determined the site

is better suited for commercial development. The 25-year lease agreement is projected to create 35 to 50 jobs.


The Board approved the renaming of the Center for Appalachian and Rural Health Research to the Appalachian Rural Health Institute to more accurately reflect the center?s innovative research endeavors in ongoing rural health care issues.


The Board heard the regular five-year reviews of the University?s centers and institutes. It was recommended that the Ohio University/Tsinghua University Institute for Genetics and Biotechnology be discontinued, and the Board approved.


The Board accepted a seven-year review of the Interdisciplinary Arts program.


The Board welcomed new members C. Robert Kidder and Dustin Wood. Kidder is chairman and CEO of Borden Chemical and serves on the boards of Morgan Stanley and EDS and is chairman of Columbus Children?s Hospital. Wood, a student trustee, is majoring in political science and Spanish.


The Board?s next scheduled meeting is Dec. 5.




Contact: Media specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu.

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