The Board of Trustees passed resolutions dealing with storage, appointing new executives and various construction projects
Last week’s Board of Trustees meeting might have drawn less controversy than January’s, but the meeting still produced approval for millions of dollars worth of construction, the appointing of new board executives and other Ohio University projects.
The board was set to vote on the demolition of the historic President Street Academic Center, but bids to demolish the property were too high, so university officials decide to delay the process.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding kept quiet on details of the bid, but said several factors, including asbestos within the building, caused the bid to be higher than projected.
The Athens Historic Preservation Commission protested the building’s demolition, but that did not play a part in the board’s decision to delay the building’s demolition.
“The reason it was pulled was for no other reason than the fact that we had a bid that did not come in within in the specifications that our estimators suggested that it should come in,” Golding said.
The university will work with the dean of the College of Business, a consultant and a “historic architect,” before finishing designs for a replacement building, he said.
The board voted for new executives for the 2015-16 academic year. Trustee Sandra Anderson will replace David Brightbill as chair of the board at the next Trustees meeting
Anderson received a Bachelor of Science degree from OU in 1973 before getting her law degree at Northwestern University. Trustee David Wolfort will retain his position as vice chair.
Additionally, a pending bill could push the Board of Trustees to look closely at student tuition. If passed, Senate Bill 4 would require the trustees to form a plan to reduce student cost of attendance by 5 percent and submit it to the Ohio Board of Regents by Sept. 1.
The university has not drawn up plans in response to the legislation, should the bill become law, McDavis said.
If the university were forced to cut its budget even more, McDavis is worried academic programs could suffer.
“We think that we have pretty much tightened our belt as much as possible,” McDavis said.
McDavis said he went to the Ohio Statehouse with student representatives and Director of Government Relations Eric Burchard to explain the impact this budget bill will have on OU and other public universities.
“We think we made some headway in helping people under the need for an increased state support for instruction, not only at Ohio University but for the entire state,” McDavis said.
In the consent agenda, the board approved the establishment of two endowments, totaling $5 million, for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
OU delayed voting on a resolution that would approve a $16.7 million project that aims to increase storage capacity on university property.
If passed, the resolution would have put the university’s auxiliary services, which include Printing Services, Mail Services and Central Receiving, at two unused spaces on West Union and at the OU Airport site.
Golding said the university has been closing storage at The Ridges because of asbestos in the buildings.
“There is no preemptive plans to demolish more buildings,” Golding said.
The board will discuss the resolution at its June meeting.
The board also allowed a $2.85 million project to replace seats in the Convocation Center and increased the budget allocated for construction of the Bobcat Lane turnaround. Trustees approved funds to renovate the College of Business and lecture rooms in McCracken and Morton halls. Consent agenda items involving easements with AEP and River Park Apartments had been deferred to the June meeting.
Before they adjourned, the board recognized the contributions of National Trustee J. Patrick Campbell, who died last month.
With tears in his eyes, McDavis presented a resolution to honor Campbell, particularly his work in creating and establishing the Century Bond, a 100-year bond that supports a significant portion of OU’s deferred maintenance and construction projects.
“(Campbell) will always be a part of this board and this university,” McDavis said.
— Dina Berliner, Alex Meyer, Kaitlin Coward, Megan Henry, Danielle Keeton-Olsen, Olivia Hitchcock, Seth Archer, Bethany Bella and Lucas Daprile contributed to this report