The Ohio University Board of Trustees announced plans to construct a new residence hall, revisited the proposed career services fee and examined enrollment numbers during the board's Thursday meeting.
Joint Committee Meeting
Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina said in the next four years, more than 50 percent of the residence halls at OU will be older than 50 years old. South Green is the largest residential green with 18 buildings and more than $80 million in deferred maintenance.
The Resources Committee proposed the idea of a new room design called "pod style." It would house about 16 people per pod and would have a shared bathroom and lounge area. The committee also recommended changing all currently existing suites to "pod style."
Six more back South buildings will be demolished, but Wray, Hoover and Ewing will be empty for “future swing space.” A recreational area will be built in place of the demolished residence halls.
The Resources Committee also proposed construction of a new 400-bed residence hall behind Mackinnon and Crawford halls.
The Park Place corridor will also receive an upgrade. The Resources Committee advised to upgrade 29 Park Place and the houses surrounding it to create a community feel. The street itself will have a different walkway to help pedestrians and improve crosswalks. The Park Place Planning Strategy Working Group will also put in an "oasis lot" at the top of Morton Hill to help with traffic.
Additionally, Faculty representative Dave Thomas said he hopes to expand career training and internships at the university to help students access jobs once they graduate.
“I think we have a chance to introduce some of these concepts then, and introduced during orientation, or learning communities programs,” Thomas said.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Deb Shaffer said one the goals she would like the Board of Trustees to follow is to create a consistent fee for all credit hours on each campus, which would create an initiative for students to continue beyond the standard 60 credit hours.
Academics and Student Success Committee
Enrollment for incoming freshman has decreased by an expected 2,800 applications from last year. This year has the second largest number of applicants in OU’s history, with last year as the largest.
The early action application deadline for undergraduate students was moved up to Dec. 1 in recent years, which could be a factor in decreased enrollment, Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management Craig Cornell said.
Graduate College Dean Joe Shields said when compared to other public universities in Ohio, OU ranked average in cohort default rate. The cohort default rate refers to the number of students who default on their loans after graduation. OU falls at 9.7 percent.
Shields gave a report on the Graduate College and its changing demographics.
Graduate student enrollment on the Athens campus is down 5.6 percent from last year, while enrollment of international students is down 4.6 percent from last year.
“(Decrease in international student enrollment is) a common thing we’re hearing around the nation,” Cornell said.
Shields said graduate outreach programs now account for a majority of the university’s graduate students. Those programs include online courses, hybrid courses and graduate program offered on regional campuses.
The graduate college has seen significant growth in online and regional campus enrollment numbers in the past nine years, Shields said.
Resources, Facilities and Affordability Committee
Committee members discussed multiple capital improvement projects, all of which were approved by the Capital Funding and Priorities Committee.
The projects include the $2.88 million renovation to the Chillicothe campus academic success center, a $900,000 project to replace the roof on the Innovation Center and installation of artificial turf on the Bob Wren baseball field for $600,000. External donations entirely fund the turf project.
The projects will be voted on during Friday’s board meeting.
Board members also reviewed maintenance priorities pertaining to aging facilities on the Athens campus — specifically, Glidden, Siegfred, Kantner, and Putnam halls.
Flannery Jewell, Ashton Nichols, Sarah Penix, George Shillcock and Zoe Stitzer contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this headline misstated that the board will vote on the new residence hall. It will not. The headline has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.