Ohio University’s Board of Trustees reaffirmed its support of OU President Duane Nellis on Monday because of his “strong performance” and “the leadership stability and continuity he and his team are providing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to a news release from the Board of Trustees, there has been progress made on key initiatives with persistent work from faculty members during Nellis’ time as university president.
“The Ohio University Board of Trustees stand firmly behind President Nellis and his leadership team in their commitment to transparency,” Dave Scholl, chair of the board, said in the release.
Nellis, his team and the board are committed to making the best decisions and investments despite these being difficult decisions, according to the release.
This comes after Nellis received criticism from faculty members about employees being laid off. Nellis originally paused “personnel-related budget reductions” March 25, according to a previous Post report.
“The promise of not laying off people during the COVID-19 crisis was not meant honestly, it was just made to get us through the semester,” Bernhard Debatin wrote in an open letter to Nellis. “Now that the semester is over, we can fire you because we don't need you any more to get through this COVID-19-ridden semester. That is painfully cynical.”
The board did not ratify an agreement between OU and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, for between March 1, 2020, and March 1, 2023, at its Monday meeting.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has since created unforeseen business circumstances that significantly altered the financial condition of Ohio University,” according to the news release.
The two parties will begin negotiations again.
The board also approved freezing undergraduate tuition and room and board fees for next school year, according to a news release.
Undergraduate tuition is frozen at $12,612 for in-state students because of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting students and their families.
The trustees also approved to extend the Undergraduate Scholarship Match program until June 30, 2024, instead of June 30 of this year.
The board also approved a policy that provides in-state tuition for graduate students who obtained their bachelor’s degrees at a school in Ohio. This policy was requested from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to keep students in the state. It does not impact the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has a different tuition model.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education will still have to approve the policy. The university does not think it will have a large financial impact.
As part of the Clippinger strategy plan, University Terrace will be getting a $1.87 million renovation. This realignment will alter the roadway so it is not immediately adjacent to the chemistry building.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the university’s operations and financial position in “unimaginable ways,” according to the news release.
“As an OHIO Trustee for eight years and an alumnus of this great University, I have learned that a university president and executive leadership frequently operate in a relatively threatening environment, even when operations are smooth, enrollments are high, and alumni are pleased,” Scholl said in the news release.
The release pointed to financial trends that indicate fewer resources from state subsidies, which places more pressure on tuition and financial aid.
In the 2010 fiscal year, the state of Ohio’s support for instruction was over $1.9 billion. This is less than it was in the 2001 fiscal year, at over $2.5 billion.
The state of Ohio recently cut the higher education budget by $110 million, which was a decrease of $6.6 million for OU.
The trustees also approved a new bachelor’s degree as well as four master’s degrees.