Resources, Facilities and Affordability Committee

Deb Shaffer, senior vice president for finance and administration, presented a budget and treasury update at the beginning of the Resources, Facilities and Affordability committee meeting. 

Shaffer announced the 2021 budget book has been published and is available for everyone to view online. She also spoke about this semester’s enrollment and how it has affected revenue.

“We were waiting for fall census information for enrollment to be able to get a better understanding of where enrollments were going to land this year,” she said. “There was so much uncertainty and unpredictability based on the pandemic.” 

Overall, Shaffer said the university is projected to do better than the predictions from two years ago indicated. 

Though enrollment has continued to decline, projected budget totals are better than expected. 

In regional campuses, there was an 8% actual decline compared to the budgeted 18% decline. The only area that has underperformed is online enrollment.

“Although some of our enrollments were higher, and you heard yesterday that I think we had about 300 more students than we had budgeted for, you also heard conversation about the fact that we had higher than we had budgeted financial aid,” she said. “At the end of the day, they almost offset.” 

Shaffer also said room and board refunds due to COVID-19 were a driver in revenue reduction this semester. 

She further spoke about the financial impact COVID-19 has on the university, citing a total of about $15 million in expenses. Those expenses include cleaning costs, protective barriers and signage and COVID-19 testing, among other things.

Due to COVID-19, there has been a lost revenue of $64,730,500, largely due to student refunds. The number of grants and amount of financial support received by the university is predicted to be $25,414,597 to offset some of the expenses incurred. 

“We had changes in our assumptions for both the number of students that would be on campus and the amount of time they would be on campus,” Shaffer said. “That’s what was the primary driver in reduction in revenues.”

Shaffer also said it’s difficult to predict what the expenses for the Spring Semester will be, as the university is unsure of how the semester will operate with COVID-19. It is also unknown what financial support will be available.

“There will be incremental investments, probably beyond what’s on this chart, that will offset some of that revenue as we make additional investments to mental health,” she said. 

Shaffer also defended furloughs as a short term solution to save money during the pandemic.

“It was a differential furlough based on compensation, and that yielded $12.6 million estimated at the institution for this fiscal year,” Shaffer said.

In terms of enrollment, Candace Boeninger, interim vice provost for enrollment management, said Ohio University has grown its number of out-of-state students in this year’s freshman class. 

“In order to do that, we also offered our non-resident students larger awards,” Boeninger said. “So it will be paying attention to what our different categories of students are that we'd like to impact and the extent to which we're using our institutional dollars to impact financial need.”

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting touched on four major points: the status of the audit plan for fiscal year 2021, the finalization of the fiscal year 2020 audited financial statements, the intercollegiate athletic compliance report and the annual Clery Act compliance report. 

The meeting began with updates on the fiscal tear 2021, or FY21, audit plan’s status from Mary Ann Boyle, who was introduced as the new interim chief audit executive by Vice Chair Cary Cooper. 

Six out of eight audits for FY21 are already in progress, three of which the Lancaster Regional Campus, Zanesville Regional Campus and Eastern Regional Campus audits carried over from last year. 

“I know that in light of our remote environment, units are transitioning to storing those types of records electronically,” Boyle said. “I don’t foresee any issue. It just has slowed down our plan a little bit in respect to wrapping those items up.”

Next on the agenda was the Fiscal Year 2020, or FY20, audited financial statements, which were presented by Deb Shaffer, who is also treasurer for the Board of Trustees. 

Audits are due to be completed and submitted to the auditor of state by Oct. 15. There will be a meeting Monday to review the drafted statements before submitting them to the state. 

Because the audit needs to be sent for finalization by Oct. 15, a resolution was proposed and passed at the end of the meeting. This gives conditional approval for the FY20 audited financial statements to permit Chair Janelle Coleman and Vice Chair Cooper to approve the statements after the meeting Monday. 

The committee then discussed the intercollegiate athletic compliance report, presented by Erik Hildebrand, the associate athletic director for compliance at OU.

Institutional control at Ohio University is the responsibility of the institution's compliance office, and the compliance staff includes Hildebrand, Jon Berryhill, the director of compliance, and Tyler Golden, a graduate assistant from the sports administration program. 

One part of institutional control for university athletics is violation structure, which includes an infraction program consisting of three levels of violations: Level I: severe breach of conduct, Level II: significant breach of conduct and Level III: breach of conduct. 

OU reports that there have only been 6 Level III violations in 2019-2020 with the average of seven since 2017. Bylaws 13 (recruiting) and 17 (playing & practice) are broken the most often. 

Currently, OU is in a probationary period with the NCAA because of a Level II recruiting violation that was discovered in February 2019 and self-reported by the university in April 2019. The probationary status started June 16, 2020, and will end June 15, 2021. 

“We discovered that we had a sport that was providing an impermissible benefit to the guardians of prospects related to their travel to campus during official visits. Unfortunately, when it was discovered, it was repetitive in nature, so that's how it rose to the Level II level,” Hildebrand said. 

Because of this violation, OU had to come up with a negotiated resolution response with the NCAA. OU submitted a preliminary report outlining their response and will have to submit a final report in April documenting the implementation of education and the completion of all other terms of the probation. This responded to many of the systemic problems that allowed this violation to take place, Julie Cromer, director of athletics at OU, said.

“Not only was there repetition, but we perhaps as an institution could have had better educational systems and training for coaches as they onboard, particularly if they don’t come from a Division I environment or if they are relatively inexperienced coaches,” Cromer said. “You saw in the negotiated resolution an extraordinary amount of effort put toward education and training of our coaches.”

The impact of COVID-19 on athletics was also addressed. In Spring 2020, all MAC competitions were canceled, including baseball, men and women’s golf, softball and outdoor track and field. In response, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all student-athletes in spring sports. Roster and scholarship limitations were also amended for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The impact of COVID-19 during the fall of 2020 has been similar. MAC postponed all fall sports competitions, and the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all student-athletes in fall sports. Athletic scholarships are protected for a season if an athlete opts out for health and safety reasons. The NCAA has also amended scholarship limits in fall sports. 

The university’s football season was also addressed, as it was recently announced the team would be allowed to compete, with the key component being the availability and efficacy of testing. 

Game day plans are still being discussed with Athens County health officials. There is a capacity number of 1,500 people, according to State of Ohio guidelines, but OU can apply to have more people if it can prove it will keep participants safe. There will be no tailgating or general public attendance. 

Lastly, Director of Equity and Civil Rights and Title XI Coordinator Kerri Griffin spoke about the annual Clery Act compliance report. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to have an annual public security report.  

Information in the report includes campus crime for three previous calendar years and details about efforts to improve campus safety. The report works as a consumer protection issue to inform future college students on crime rates and safety. 

The only noticeable change is the low number of drug and alcohol arrests and referrals. It was suggested this may be due to new laws. Otherwise, the report is consistent. 

“This can be from a number of reasons. Some laws have changed, but it applied both on campus and in the Athens Police Department ... They also had far fewer numbers of referrals for drug and alcohol issues,” Griffin said.

Main Board Meeting

OU President Duane Nellis gave his president's report during the main board meeting, during which he talked about OU’s successes throughout the academic year. 

Nellis told the trustees the search for vice president for enrollment management has started after being paused because of COVID-19. Jenny Hall-Jones is still interim vice president for Student Affairs. The university is also in the process of finding a new dean for the College of Business, with six finalists to choose from. 

Nellis also congratulated the activism that has taken place through the university over the summer in fall.  

Nellis commented on the array of sources students have to help them during the pandemic and the school year, such as Campus Recovery Community, online learning resources and daily coping clinics. 

“We want to make sure students have the full package of support if they were here physically but through the virtual environment,” Nellis said. 

Plans to have a commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 are still in the works, though the Fall Commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 will be virtual at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12. 

Lydia Colvin, Ryan Maxin, Grant Ritchey, Claire Schiopota and Emma Skidmore contributed to this report.