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Friday, Apr 26, 2019

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Board of Trustees approves new construction, tuition and fee increases

Board, administration also discuss regional higher education strategy, budget updates


The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved construction of a new building for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as expected tuition and fee changes for incoming students for the Fall of 2019, during its meeting Friday.

The Board also held discussions regarding the long-term strategy for regional higher education following a Regional Higher Education Study Committee report released in November 2018.

Capital projects

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution to approve new capital projects, including $56 million for the construction phase of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Phase 1 Academic Replacement Space. The scope of the project, which also includes $9 million in previously-approved funding for design, consists of construction of a new three-story building on the Union Street Green, across from the West Union Street Office Center. The project is anticipated for completion in FY 21.

The Board also approved a budget amendment for the new Chilled Water Plant project. The amendment adds $725,000 to the already-approved $30.85 million project to allow for changes to the design of the chilled water plant based on input and recommendations from the University’s Architectural Design Advisory Committee.

The Board also approved an additional $2.2 million for the renovation of The Ridges Buildings 13, 14 and 18. The scope of the project, with a previously-approved budget of $13.124 million, includes improvements to the building’s mechanical, electrical and technology systems and a refresh of building interiors. The additional funds are anticipated to cover opportunities that emerged during project design to expand scope to address issues in existing academic space and to combine other planned projects for efficiency resulting in less overhead costs. Additionally, the additional funds will address HVAC and electrical upgrades discovered during the design phase.

Other capital projects approved include:

  • The Board approved the addition of $213,000 to the budget for the Konneker alumni Center ADA addition and renovation, bringing the total to $1.7 million.
  • Repurposing of the Human Resources Training Center for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine as part of the overall HCOM Phase One project: $1.164 million.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to Sargent Hall: $1.1 million.
  • Roof replacement of Ridges Building 33: $925,000.
  • Central Classroom masonry repairs: $922,000.
  • Ridges Building 37 improvements and roof repair: $850,000.
  • Eastern Campus chiller replacement: $650,000.

Tuition, fee and rate increases

The Board approved a resolution to approve instructional and general fee increases of 3.5 percent for the incoming cohort of OHIO Guarantee Athens and regional campus students, and 2 percent for non-Guarantee students. Ohio Revised Code states that guarantee program tuition rates may increase at a rate no greater than the average of the 60-month rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, estimated at 1.5 percent, plus the percentage amount increase authorized by the General Assembly. The administration’s recommendation assumes a 2 percent limitation on such increases will be authorized by the General Assembly before July 1, 2019.

The Board also approved increases of 3.5 percent for housing rates and 2 percent for meal plan rates.

Additionally, the Board approved increases to a pair of service fees from which students can choose to opt out. In both cases, the fees collected are passed on to third party service providers. These include the Student Legal Service Fee, which goes from $12 to $15 per student, and elective course charges that will be assessed to student accounts for essential course content and materials. The elective course fees can be modified each term to ensure that the charges assessed to students are equivalent to the cost paid to the third parties. The establishment of these charges must be consistent with fees authorized by the Ohio General Assembly.

Regional Higher Education discussion

Ohio President M. Duane Nellis, Southern Campus Dean Nicole Pennington, and Senior Vice Provost for Instructional Innovation Brad Cohen led the discussion on the Regional Higher Education report. The Trustees received the report of the Regional Higher Education Study Committee, which was delivered to President Nellis on Nov. 1, 2018.

President Nellis formed the committee in May to review and evaluate OHIO’s regional campus higher education model, and charged the committee with ensuring a sustainable future for educational access and education across the region. The committee benchmarked the regional higher education system, researched and identified other national models, analyzed internal trend cycles and developed principles and recommendations for achieving an engaged, inclusive academic and resource model for the whole of our University.

The report describes a reimagining of OHIO’s campuses as vital locations in a dynamic engagement ecosystem and recommends reimagining the institution as one Ohio University. The next step is to determine a pathway toward implementing these recommendations to unite, both structurally and culturally, all of OHIO’s campuses as one University.

The administration also provided an update on enrollment for Spring 2019 and an enrollment forecast for Fall 2019.

Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts (CoArts)

The Board approved the new Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts (CoArts) within the Ohio University College of Fine Arts. The center is founded on the principle that place-based, collaborative arts and design are essential to regional development efforts, and can assist in addressing vital issues and building culturally inclusive and resilient communities. It will be the only arts-based research center at Ohio University and in the region.

CoArts will use resources in the College of Fine Arts to assist regional communities with their cultural and creative priorities while creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students. It will be vital for extending and connecting the resources of the College within the University’s growing engagement ecosystem, as well as within the region’s arts and culture-based non-profits and government agencies.

Department of Social Work

The Board approved the creation of a new department within the College of Health Sciences and Professions. The Department of Social Work previously existed within the College of Arts and Sciences, and was merged into the College of Health Sciences and Professions’ Department of Social and Public Health.

Due to the dramatic growth in enrollment in social work and programmatic development in the online Master of Social Work program, further enrollment growth is projected. The Department of Social and Public Health unanimously supported the creation of the new department, which was approved by the University Curriculum Council.

Change to Student Senate constitutional amendment process

The Board, through a resolution, did not object to changes made to the Student Senate constitution made by Student Senate. The Board of Trustees noted that it has no role in the approval of such changes and agreed that the Senate does not need to bring changes to the Board in the future.

The Student Senate change enables Student Senate to make changes to its constitution without a final approval by the Board of Trustees.

Student Senate will still be overseen and advised by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students, as well as a graduate advisor. Student Senate will operate as a student organization and follow all University policies and procedures, including the Student Code of Conduct. The matter now will go to a vote of the student body for final approval.

Increased support for first-generation students

Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali and University College Dean and Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Success Elizabeth Sayrs provided an overview of mentoring programs designed to increase support for first-generation students. A significant percentage of first-year students on the Athens Campus have reported being first-generation students, defined as neither parent having completed a bachelor’s degree.

While OHIO outperforms the national average for persistent and completion-rate gaps between first-generation students and the overall population, OHIO is committed to closing the gap completely as part of the overall goal of improving student success, persistence and graduation across the University.

The presentation included information about the College Achievement Program and OHIO First Scholars, as well as information from faculty and staff members and students with which they work.

In other business, the Board:

  • Approved a resolution adopting a textbook selection policy in alignment with Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio University Faculty Handbook. The policy, which is now required by Ohio Revised Code, outlines the University’s policy for faculty to follow in selecting and assigning textbooks and other instructional materials.
  • Approved the creation of the Master of Art in War and Peace Studies in the Center for International Studies. The 30 credit-hour interdisciplinary graduate degree will focus on international security issues, including dynamics of cooperation and conflict, war, terrorism, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, among others. The undergraduate program by the same name is the largest in the Center for International Studies.
  • Changed the name of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, within the College of Fine Arts, to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Performance. The program includes two new major tracks, one for acting and one for musical theater.
  • Amended the Undergraduate Scholarship Match program, previously amended in October, to extend the program to OHIO’s regional campuses.
  • Amended the Century Bond, endowment, and non-endowment investment policies to require any future revisions to the policies, which are overseen by the Investment Committee of the Ohio University Foundation, to be presented to the Board of Trustees on an annual basis.
  • Approved a new information technology network strategy and project spending plan for network replacement and upgrades. The strategy includes up-front, one-time costs of up to $7 million.