Ohio University Board of Trustees members discussed Friday the burden of proof that should be used in the university setting.

Board member N. Victor Goodman addressed what the burden of proof is within sexual misconduct cases.

“The burden of proof should not be beyond a predominance of evidence,” Goodman said. 

Board member Cary Cooper said OU’s burden of proof has not been changed in many years. He recommended the Review and Standards Committee take it into consideration and review it.

“The predominance of the evidence standards requires schools, like Ohio University, make life-altering decisions with great doubts,” Goodman said.

Barbara Nalazek, deputy general counsel for OU’s legal affairs, said all public institutions in Ohio are also using preponderance of evidence.

Board member Steve Casciani asked why OU couldn’t use clear and convincing evidence for sexual misconduct and preponderance of the evidence for everything else. Nalazek said the Trump administration has asked that public universities be consistent.

Nalazek said before the Trump administration, the Obama administration supported preponderance of the evidence.

“It’s important to feel that people should report and get a fair hearing, but sometimes we ought to think about the respondent,” Goodman said.

Student trustee Austin McClain said students need to be involved inside the conversation because it will change lives in a monumental way.

The changes to the code of conduct include respondents having access to a rights and resources meeting and the addition of an adviser role to assist the complainant or respondent.

The appeal deadline was extended from three business days to five business days.

The board met at OU’s Eastern Campus. It usually meets at a regional campus during the June meeting, Board President Dave Scholl said.

“It’s a real opportunity for the trustees to move within the system and really understand what those regional campuses provide,” Scholl said.

The most common theme among satellite campuses is how students get a one-on-one experience with faculty members, Scholl said.

The board approved the six year Capital Improvement Plan Update and the University Operating Budget resolution.

Scholl said the University Operating Budget is updated every year and that it is a good adaptation of it without compromising education.

The board also approved an eCampus $3 per credit hour fee for undergraduates.

The board approved the use of the annual century bond for deferred maintenance, which is a $250 million bond where $160 million was set aside.

The board approved the election of Deb Shaffer as treasurer to the Board of Trustees and the election of Dave Moore as secretary of the board.

“We need to be a digital-first university,” Nellis said in his presidential report. “We need to pivot in new directions.”

Nellis said there needs to be a new general education.

He said it has been 40 years since the general education requirements have been updated.

Nellis said that a new budget model needs to be made.

The university’s first pathway is to be a national leader in diversity and inclusion, Nellis said.

He recognized hosting Anita Hill and being selected to First Forward, which recognizes universities’ commitments to first-generation students.

“The board wishes to recognize the president’s strong accomplishments in the previous fiscal year and provide an increased bonus potential,” Scholl said. “The board approves an increase for fiscal year 2019-2020 in the amount of $7,232 … and an increase of $533 to Mrs. Ruthie Nellis. Be it further resolved, the board approves a bonus of $72,300 or 15 percent.”

Cooper said there will be 350 students entering in the Ohio Honors program, which is an alternative to the Honors Tutorial College.

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