Correction appended.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase for the 2020 fiscal year during its meetings on Jan. 17 and 18.

Tuition will increase from about $6,822 to about $7,060. Deborah Shaffer, vice president for finance and administration, said a main reason for the increase is low enrollment. Tuition has not increased for four years.

The approval of the increase has a condition. The state of Ohio must approve a two percent state tuition cap, according to a previous Post report.

One of the reasons that enrollment is decreasing is because the college-bound population in the Midwest is decreasing, Chaden Djalali, executive vice president and provost, said.

President Duane Nellis said that the university needs more private investments for scholarship endowments to free up state dollars. 

“We often focus on 18-22 year olds, but it really is learning for life,” Nellis said.

The board also discussed regional higher education.

“(The regional campuses) over the last five years have exhausted almost every traditional means to impact their bottom line,” Shaffer said in a previous Post report.

The board also looked at the state of OU’s investments.

OU was projected to earn about $47.8 million for the 2019 fiscal year, but they have lost about $13 million. OU was up about $14 million in November, but it decreased because of the volatile stock market in December, director of investments David Gaume said.

The trustees approved a proposed Student Senate amendment which changes its constitutional process. This allows the senate to make changes without approval of the Board of Trustees, according to a previous Post report.

“This resolution allows both (Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate) to work together,” Jason Pina, vice president for student affairs, said.

Another resolution passed was the increase of the Student Legal Services Fees. The fee gives OU students legal assistance. The cost will increase from $12 per semester to $15 per semester, Pina said.

“They have been running fiscal deficits for the last couple of years, depleting their fund balances,” Pina said.

Board members approved several capital projects, including about $56 million construction phase of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s new Union Street Green.

The board also approved the addition of a new chilled water plant. There was already $30.85 million approved, but the Board approved another $725,000 to allow for changes to the design.

To comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the board approved $213,000 for the Konneker Alumni Center. This brings the total renovation to $1.7 million.

There are several buildings at the Ridges that will be renovated as well.

Buildings 13, 14 and 18 will receive mechanical, electrical and technology systems upgrades for $2.2 million, according to a university press release. The roof on building 33 will be replaced for $925,000. Building 37 will receive various improvements as well as a roof repair for $850,000, according to a previous Post report.

Lastly, representatives from the athletic department presented about athlete’s mental health.

Faculty Athletic Representatives, or FARs, Thomas Vander Ven and Heather Lawrence-Benedict presented during the Governance and Compensation Committee.

FARs are responsible for helping student athletes bond with their academic advisors and be active in their studies.

There is currently a mental health professional who sees student athletes in The Convocation Center. This is a valuable resource for student athletes who may be afraid of the stigma of going to other on-campus mental health resources or fear being recognized seeking out these resources by peers, Lawrence-Benedict said, according to a previous Post report.

There were several testimonies given from student athletes that showed how this option has been helpful for them.

The board also approved the reestablishment of the Department of Social Work into the College of Health Sciences and Professions. In 2011, the Department of Social Work moved from the College of Arts and Sciences into the Department of Social and Public Health. 

It is now being reestablished as a Department of Social Work in the College of Health Sciences and Professions due to “dramatic growth in enrollment in social work and programmatic development in the online Master of Social Work Program,” according to the Board of Trustees agenda.


Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled the name of the Konneker Alumni Center. The story has also been updated to clarify information about the 2 percent state tuition cap and the Master of Social Work program. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.