The Board of Trustees met Thursday to discuss enrollment, changing general education and insurance plans.

Academic and Student Success Committee

The Academic and Student Success Committee focused on covering three urgent initiatives: reimagining academic enterprise, student success and catalyzing strategic enrollment. 

Members of the reimagining general education leadership team, Katie Hartman and Elizabeth Sayrs, presented an update on the Strategic Framework process, focusing on general education reform. 

The presentation consisted of an overview of our current general education requirements and the need for reform, a timeline for reform and the general education statements of intent. 

Hartman presented the Ohio Bricks, which are the statements of intent for OU’s new general education curriculum. Bricks stands for bridge, reason, integrate, communicate, know and synthesize. 

“What I like about the concept of Bricks is that it’s basically a brand to kids in high school considering going to Ohio University. It’s going to have an impact on the recruiting process,” Dave Scholl, board chair, said.

Hartman said once the new model is chosen and implemented, it will be easier for students to make the connection of why general education is important.

Candace Boeninger, associate vice provost for strategic enrollment and director of undergraduate admissions, gave a presentation focusing on an enrollment update.

Since last year, undergrad admissions have decreased by 5.3%. Boeninger said although admission rates are declining, academic quality is rising. About 20% of the freshman class was in the top 10% of their high school, and the average GPA was a 3.55.

In order to stop the rates from decreasing, OU is looking to enhance marketing and communications efforts in the recruitment process. Adding global recruitment executives across the country is another addition soon to be implemented, in hopes to grow the undergraduate admissions.

Resources, Facilities and Affordability Committee

The Resources, Facilities and Affordability committee discussed the future trajectory of enrollment at OU during its meeting.

The graduating classes at OU are higher than ever before, but enrollment numbers are declining. The difference in those numbers is attributed to more students taking College Credit Plus, or CCP, classes before enrolling at OU. 

The budget is being altered to account for students who are going to OU with enough credits to graduate before a four-year time frame. Those students are spending less time on campus, which was also accounted for in spending differences.

Board members expect that trend to continue in the future and is trying to plan accordingly.

Deb Shaffer, senior vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer, said success has a price. For OU, the success of students means that the university has to reimagine its business model.

“We really do have a realistic scenario of ‘Where are we going?’” Shaffer said.

OU is down 1,000 students compared to previous years, Shaffer said.

Shaffer also presented a plan to cut back on spending to avoid dipping into the university’s reservoirs.

“Making decisions and acting swiftly means that we can avoid using those reserves for six to seven years,” Shaffer said.

The Board also passed a resolution to make renovations to two residence halls.

Both James and Washington halls will be getting renovations, including improved ventilation for both dorms and chilled water in Washington Hall. 

Renovations for James Hall and Washington Hall will cost about $1.5 million and $1.4 million, respectively. Construction will begin next summer. 

Governance and Compensation Committee

The Governance and Compensation committee discussed moving from its current retirement plan system to a lower fee scheme with fewer providers.

Currently, OU has 22 vendors. The Retirement Benefit Investment committee was formed to cut down the number of insurance vendors they work with down to four.

The four vendors the Board selected already have 78%-80% of university participants. The remaining faculty and staff that do not have insurance from one of the four vendors would need to switch. 

If participants are an active employee at the university, they will be affected and need to switch insurance vendors. Faculty and staff that are retired, however, do not need to switch vendors. 

Right now, the Retirement Benefit Investment committee meets every two weeks, but once everything is in line, it expects to meet quarterly to review how the funds it selected are performing.

Taylor Burnette, Maddie Bussert, Abby Miller and Michael Riojas contributed to this report.

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