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Highlighted topics for January 2017 Board of Trustees meeting

This article has been updated to clarify that the conversation about sanctuary universities and the discussion about Senate Bill 199 will take place in open executive committee.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, Jan. 19 and Friday, Jan. 20, at Margaret M. Walter Hall. Agenda highlights include academic points of pride, a proposed tuition increase, an update to the 2012 Housing Development Plan, a proposal for a gas line under a portion of the Ohio University Eastern Campus, a conversation about sanctuary universities, a discussion about Senate Bill 199, and the appointment of an interim President.

University Spotlight (President’s Report)

Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS) Executive Director, Richard Murray, Past President Jon Saxton, and Associate Director Cindy Hartman of CORAS, will join Patton College of Education Dean, Renée A. Middleton, to present the coalition’s history and mission to Trustees. The spotlight will focus on ways the coalition is making a positive impact on students and in our region.

College of Arts and Sciences (Academics Committee)

Dean Robert Frank of the College of Arts and Sciences will provide an update on the College’s academic quality dashboard. The College offers a wide array of degree programs and scholarly activities at OHIO, spanning the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences at the undergraduate and graduate level. In fall 2016, the College welcomed its largest freshman class since 1995 with 1,007 incoming students. The college includes 29% first generation students and 19% multicultural students. The number of tenure-track faculty has increased modestly over the past five years and faculty salaries have increased as a result of the University Faculty Compensation plan. Faculty research and creative activity has been impressive with over $10 million in grants and contracts and 797 articles, chapters, and books published in academic year 2015-16.

Academic Points of Pride – Library (Academics Committee)

The Vernon R. Alden Library is an incredible source of pride at OHIO. With over 3.5 million print volumes, 1.1 million electronic books and significant special collections in World War II, Asian art and culture, and regional history, Alden Library has also revitalized into a learning center that is used extensively by students as a place to meet, study, and conduct research in the “stacks,” online, and through the Libraries extensive network of interlibrary resources. Alden Library is recognized as one of the top 100 research libraries in the North America. Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and Dean Scott Seaman will share additional highlights of this vibrant campus and community resource.

Academic Points of Pride – (Academics Committee)

Under the direction of Dr. Talinn Phillips, Assistant Professor of English, the Graduate Writing Center (GWC) provides free, one-on-one tutoring for graduate students to support and improve their skills in academic writing. In addition, the GWC has developed workshops, tutor training programs, and writing retreats to support a full range of student writing and communication needs through a variety of delivery methods.

Proposed tuition increases for first-year, transfer, and non-OHIO Guarantee students to be presented to OHIO Board of Trustees (Joint Committee)

University leadership will present tuition, room and board increase proposals for first-year and transfer students who will matriculate in the fall 2017 (the 3rd cohort under the OHIO Guarantee). In addition, the University will be seeking Board approval to increase the tuition for continuing students that are outside of an OHIO Guarantee cohort.

These proposed increases, in consultation with the Budget Planning Council, resulted from a series of planning assumptions related to OHIO’s institutional priorities and multi-year projections of the resources necessary to sustain these commitments going forward.

Such tuition and subsidy projections are contingent on tuition caps and subsidy appropriation levels within the final State budget. Preliminary indications of the State budget decisions will occur at the end of February when the Governor presents his proposed budget; however, the state budget is not final until approved by the legislature at the end of June.

Housing and Residence Life to request approval to hire consultant firm, update 2012 Housing Development Plan (Joint Committee)

Housing and Residence Life plans to seek approval from the Board to hire a consultant to assist in updating the 2012 Housing Development Plan. Since their initial presentation during last October’s Board meeting, the department has interviewed four consultant firms that responded to Ohio University’s Housing Development Plan Strategic Update 2017 Request for Proposal (RFP). The recommended consultant firm, and estimated fee schedule, will be presented for Board consideration during the January meeting.

Proposed gas line under a portion of the Ohio University Eastern Campus (Joint Committee)

Rover Pipeline, LLC is a new interstate natural gas project proposed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of domestically-produced natural gas to markets in the Midwest, Northeast, East Coast, Gulf Coast and Canada, with direct deliveries to Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, and into the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada which has a broader network of distribution points back into the U.S., the Northeast and into the Canadian market.

As part of their implementation process, Rover has engaged in the permit approval process for a proposed 713 mile high pressure gas line that will pass under a portion of the Ohio University Eastern Campus upon Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval.

Currently, there is no agreement in place to allow for the pipeline easement to be constructed. However, upon FERC’s final approval, Rover can file a lawsuit to exercise eminent domain over parcels for which there is no easement agreement and the court will determine rate of reimbursement.

In anticipation of FERC approval, Board members will discuss plans to grant temporary and permanent easements on the Ohio University Eastern Campus to Rover for construction of the Rover Pipeline.

Discussion about Senate Bill 199 (Executive Committee)

Board members will discuss a Senate Bill 199, which was signed into law by Governor John Kasich on December 16, 2016.  Senate Bill 199, which will take effect in 90 days, gives public colleges and universities the authority to allow weapons on campus. Effectuating this law on OHIO’s campus would require Board approval. While no action will be taken at the January Board meeting, Board members will meet in open executive committee to discuss the new law.

Conversation about sanctuary universities (Executive Committee)

OHIO Trustees will also convene in open executive committee to discuss the concept of sanctuary universities. Unlike many other colleges and universities across the nation, Ohio University has not declared itself a “sanctuary university.” President McDavis told Faculty Senate on Dec. 5 that “it is a little premature for us to take a position on that issue” since no changes have been made to law or practice at this point. He did promise the University would continue to monitor the situation in the coming months.

Finally, the following item will be discussed by the Board in Executive Session:

Appointment of an interim University President

As Roderick J. McDavis’ tenure as the University’s 20th President will end on Feb. 17, the Board will announce the appointment of an interim president. Although an interim President will be named, it is important to note there are no anticipated changes in the timeline for our Presidential search timetable.