We are writing in response to the Feb. 21 editorial, “OU administration needs to better communicate about the university budget.”
University leadership acknowledges that this is a tough time financially, not just for Ohio University but for institutions of higher education across the nation. We agree that the “conversation surrounding the budget should be one of openness and transparency,” and we are working diligently to do what we can to bridge the communication gap related to budget constraints that we face as an institution and how we are working to overcome those challenges.
Dr. Duane Nellis has allocated two sessions from his Breakfast for Progress series to focus on our budget challenges. On Nov. 30, 2017, leaders from every facet of the university's shared governance structure gathered to discuss budget issues facing not just Ohio University but also higher education in Ohio and across the nation. The discussion continued Jan. 31 where the group narrowed the focus to the university's budget challenges and discussed ways to position the university to make progress toward a sustainable financial future.
Last week we concluded a series of budget forums, open to all faculty, staff and students, where university leadership provided an overview and answered questions about the university’s budget decision-making processes in an open forum.
University leadership has increased the communication about our budget situation with our students, faculty, and staff through email and newsletters, as well as with additional articles in Compass. We have also created a monthly media availability to allow members of the press to ask questions regarding our Budget Planning Council meetings and our budget process. We are actively seeking to improve communication and will continue to do so.
Our faculty, staff, students, deans and planning unit leadership all have representation in our budget planning processes through our shared governance structures. Each of those groups plays a key role in sharing information with their constituents as well as addressing their questions, misperceptions and concerns. We are continuing to work with these groups to improve communication, share information and develop a common understanding on this very important topic. We welcome suggestions to further improve communication.
Elizabeth P. Sayrs, Ph.D. is the interim executive vice president and provost, and Deborah J. Shaffer is the vice president for finance and administration at Ohio University.
Correction: A previous version of this letter misstated the titles of Sayrs and Shaffer. The letter has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.