Following discussions during Thursday’s committee meetings, the Ohio University Board of Trustees will vote Friday to increase tuition and fees, expand the OHIO Guarantee to regional campuses and assess a new “career services” fee. 

Here are the highlights of what board members discussed during committee meetings: 

Joint Resources and Academics Committee

During the Joint Committee meeting, the board heard a presentation from Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer, who said the university was doing “very well” in terms of budgeting the upcoming financial year. 

The university spent less of its financial reserves last year, Shaffer said. 

Despite a decline in enrollment and a hefty backlog of deferred maintenance,  the university is still planning on a completing a majority of planned capital projects. 

“We have slowed down a lot of those projects,” Shaffer said. “We’re actually spending dollars slower than we had anticipated.” 

The university recommended approval to extend the OHIO Guarantee — a model that guarantees level-rate tuition, housing, dining and fees to students and their families — to regional campuses.  As part of the extension, a 6 percent tuition increase would be allowed in the first year of the transition to “maintain the competitive rate structure.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina briefly discussed student housing and said the university would allow more than 200 junior and senior students to live on campus at a time. 

Due to time constraints, discussions about the Russ Research Center in Beavercreek and an update on the Housing Development Plan were tabled for the March board meeting. 

Academics and Student Success Committee

Preliminary 2018 spring enrollment is down 1 percent, meaning that 326 fewer students are enrolled at OU this semester, Craig Cornell, senior vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, said.

During the Academics Committee, there were presentations on enrollment, intercollegiate athletics and University College. Applications surpassed 20,000 for the sixth year in a row. Although admissions are increasing, it is too early in the process to determine changes from 2017, Cornell said.

“This year is really pretty much across the board for most of our programs,” Cornell said. “Proportionally, they are down overall.”

Although the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and regional campus enrollment have increased, undergraduate enrollment has decreased proportionately across colleges. 

The University College has seen an increase in student-support initiatives and a decrease in the gap between first-generation and continuing generation students. 

The growth of learning communities and study skill workshops have had “exponential” growth over the years, Assistant Dean of University College Carey Busch said. 

University College serves the 20 to 25 percent of first-year students who are undecided on their majors. This year, the school will finalize new mission and vision statements, which focus on collaborative programs, research-based initiatives and growing academic programs. 

The number of students served by the Allen Advising Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention doubled since last year, Tamekia Scott, assistant dean of Academic Achievement and executive director of the Academic Advancement Center and College Achievement Program, said. 

The intercollegiate athletics update detailed the academic success of student-athletes, despite their classification as high-risk students due to busy athletic schedules, Director of Athletics Jim Schaus said.

The Board of Trustees approved five consent resolutions that review, create, delete and change the names of academic programs.

Resources Committee 

Resource Committee members asked the board for a 1.3 percent increase in tuition, as permitted by the Ohio Revised Code. Additionally, the university recommended a 3.5 percent increase in residential housing rates on the Athens campus, along with a 2 percent increase in Athens campus culinary services. 

According to a news release, Culinary Services has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of meal plans purchased in the past six years but has maintained an average increase of 1.1 percent. 

Housing rates were set to increase by 3.5 percent as part of an annual plan supported by the board. 

The committee also discussed the implementation of a proposed “career services” fee that would assess $6 per credit hour to benefit career and leadership development opportunities and programming. The fee, which caps at 12 credit hours, would amount to about $72 per semester for full-time students, or $144 for one year. 

It would apply to all undergraduate students, including those at regional campuses, beginning with the fall 2018 cohort. 

Ohio’s chancellor for higher education must approve the fee after the board approves it. 

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Audit and Risk Management Committee discussed the Chief Audit Executive Report and Annual Insurance Report and heard a presentation on OU’s self-insured workers’ compensation.

The Chief Audit Executive Report outlined the completed, current and planned financial audits. The audits for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Health Sciences and Professions are in progress and expected to be completed by March. 

Larry Wines, the director of Enterprise Risk Management and Insurance, explained OU’s decision to self-insure workers’ compensation to increase control over approval and management of claims. 

“You really have to be on top of workers’ comp,” Wines said. 

Wines also discussed the Annual Insurance Report. He talked with the committee about OU’s participation in the Inter-University Council Insurance Consortium. The consortium coordinates the purchase of property and liability insurance for Ohio 's four-year public universities and freestanding medical colleges. The relationship benefits the university because the insurance products are more cost effective.

Governance Committee

The Governance Committee discussed evaluation protocol for board officials at its meeting. The board has a policy only for evaluating the president and none for evaluating other board officials.

“We have a responsibility to give feedback,” Board of Trustees Chair Janetta King said.

Members also discussed changing the format of the minutes of their meetings. The proposed format mentions the topics on the agenda and spends more time on what the trustees bring up during the meeting. 

The Board of Trustees website is being revised to include archived minutes dating back to 1949.

The Board of Trustees has meeting dates through August already planned and a budget retreat on May 14 planned. 

Lauren Fisher, Taylor Heddleson, Ashton Nichols, Jackie Osborne, Madeline Peck and Sarah Penix contributed to this report.

Comments powered by Disqus