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Ohio University President Duane Nellis (second from left) speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting in Walter Hall on March 23. (FILE)

Board of Trustees approves Park Place corridor updates and tuition increase

Correction appended.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees passed several items on its agenda Friday. Several authorize the university to accept bids on construction projects.

The university plans to update the Park Place corridor. The upgrade aims to give the space a “community feel” with improved crosswalks and an additional parking lot. The board voted to renovate 29 Park Place and the Konneker Alumni Center. The board does not yet have a cost estimate for the entire project, but the board approved construction and design requests of $2.3 million for 29 Park Place and $1.5 million for Konneker Alumni Center.

The board also approved new turf at Bob Wren Stadium, a replacement for the Innovation Center roof and a renovation of the Academic Success Center at the Chillicothe campus. Those projects total more than $4 million.

The board approved a tuition and fee increase of 3.25 percent increase for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine for Fall Semester 2018.

After the board held a closed meeting in the morning to discuss compensation of an employee and purchasing property, the board meeting began late with a presentation from OU President Duane Nellis. Nellis highlighted several awards and accomplishments by OU staff, faculty and students. He thanked Counseling and Psychological Services Ph.D. Director Fred Weiner for 50 years of service and played a video detailing the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s program in Ecuador.

The OU Board of Trustees recently won the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges for its handling of deferred maintenance and the creation of the OHIO Guarantee.

OU Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin gave a presentation to the board about the declining percent of tenured faculty at the university. As the number of students at the university has increased, the university has met that need by hiring part-time and non-tenure track faculty.

“This is certainly not unique to OU, but we can work on improving the situation here,” he said.

He said the declining rate of tenured faculty means less research, academic freedom, academic quality and participation in university governance by faculty members. Faculty Senate has recommended that the university prioritize hiring tenure-track faculty and hire no more than 25 percent of faculty outside of the tenure track.

McLaughlin also brought up several concerns faculty senate has about the interim “Freedom of Expression” policy. He said the permanent policy should not include a "blanket prohibition" on expression such as rallies and public speeches indoors, should allow for spontaneous protests, should clearly define what conduct is “disruptive,” should define which officials will respond to protests and should require the university to make a good faith attempt to de-escalate a disruptive protest.

At the end of the meeting, the board recognized the work of former interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner and board members who have completed their terms, including Student Trustee Brooke Mauro and board President Janetta King.

The board thanked King for her service at the end of the meeting. King said she grew up below the poverty level, and no one in her family had gone to college when she came to OU.

“Going from that view to this view has been incredible,” she said. “The magic to me was access to higher education.”


Correction: A previous version of this report included inaccurate information about when tuition and fees were approved and how much money has been allocated toward the 29 Park Place and Konneker Alumni Center renovation projects. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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