March 17, 2014
The Ohio University Board of Trustees engaged in conversations about key factors shaping the fiscal year 2015 budget and an array of transformational initiatives at meetings on the Athens campus.
In the past several years, OHIO has made a concerted effort to successfully evolve along with the changing landscape of higher education. This has resulted in numerous initiatives and strategic plans designed to guide that process.
Trustees heard updates on a number of these projects, ranging from an innovation study and the University’s real estate strategy to collaborative interdisciplinary facilities and OHIO’s comprehensive plan which will pull all initiatives together and provide a roadmap to guide the institution’s future physical development.
Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit acknowledged that all of the University’s long-term planning efforts are interconnected and are not useful without meticulous and thoughtful coordination. Despite their diversity, these projects are all informed by smart growth principles and are in service to strengthening the academic priorities of the institution outlined in its academic strategic plan.
Smart growth recognizes that the University cannot simply cut budgets or grow enrollment to address the increasing costs of higher education. Instead, the focus should be on using existing resources efficiently and making targeted investments that support academic goals and enhance OHIO for students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.
This comprehensive planning process is ongoing and will touch all areas of the University. The Board will have the chance to review many of these projects in detail at future meetings.
The trustees also reviewed the varied components that will influence the FY2015 budget. Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding modeled several budget scenarios, illustrating the results of 0 percent, 1 percent and 1.5 percent tuition increases. When accounting for committed uses, like increased healthcare and utility costs, all three scenarios have money remaining for strategic investments, but none are able to cover all identified needs.
Golding ensured the trustees that affordability is a high priority in the budget planning process, and will be carefully balanced against other needs. He also outlined the new Signature scholarship program and the University’s progress toward building an additional $75 million endowment for scholarships. These are both designed to provide aid to a wider range of students including those with the most financial need.
University leadership will continue in-depth budget discussions with the colleges and solicit feedback from the campus community and the Budget Planning Council on where investments are most critical. Trustees can expect final budget recommendations for approval at their June meeting.
In other business, the Board approved:
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