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Members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees meet on Thursday in Walter Hall (FILE: The BoT is currently not meeting in Walter Hall, but virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic). 

Board of Trustees approves fiscal year 22 audit plan, secretary and treasurer appointments

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Ohio University Board of Trustees met Thursday in the first of two days of sessions to discuss and approve the 2022 fiscal year (FY) Annual Audit Plan, among other things. 

The plan, which was approved unanimously, was presented by Chief Audit Executive Marion Candrea and outlines the university’s audit projects to be completed during FY22. The plan was formulated based on objectives outlined by senior leadership at OU and takes into consideration compliance concerns, prior audit findings and higher education trends. 

The plan also includes completion of the FY21 audit, which is currently in progress, as well as several other projects. For FY22, the university opted to complete two NCAA rotational audits — governance and rules education — which are completed every four to six years. The university will also assist external auditors with NCAA agreed-upon procedures. 

“We had thought that governance and rules education would be two good ones to start with because they really are foundational to every other area that the audit guides cover,” Candrea said. 

The university will also continue to internally audit special projects. Some of these include monitoring the Purchasing Card (PCard) program, which allows university employees to have small-dollar purchasing power through an OU-issued credit card, and supporting the Office of Information Technology’s risk assessment of the OU Foundation. 

Candrea highlighted an initiative to allow web intake of incident complaints. OU utilizes EthicsPoint, an incident management reporting service, to receive ethics and compliance reports at the university. Previously, complaints were only able to be received by phone. 

“I thought it was important, just in keeping up with the technological and digital world that we live in, to also offer a web intake option,” Candrea said. “I would hate for it to be inconvenient for someone to be reporting a complaint if they felt so inclined.”

Governance and Compensation Committee

Following the Audit and Risk Management Committee’s presentation, the Governance and Compensation Committee sent two resolutions to the main board for the election of David Moore as Secretary to the Board and Deborah Shaffer as Treasurer of the Board. Both resolutions were approved unanimously.

Academics and Student Success Committee 

The Academics and Student Success Committee updated statistics concerning student retention and persistence for the first time since January 2018. 

The overall annual retention rates at the Athens campus have been on an upward trend, improving from 78.6% in 2012 to 81.3% in 2019. Data from 2015 shows OU’s retention rate ranked 18th in a peer group of 27 other universities with similar students, represented by ACT scores. Using 2019 data, OU moved up to rank 4th. 

Black student retention has been at its highest in recent years, with an 83% retention rate in 2019. Additionally, the retention rates of students eligible for Pell Grants and first-generation students have made progress, Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said.

To bolster retention rates, OU will continue to roll out the OHIO Guarantee Plus Graduation Plan. The plan, implementing academic advising, career coaching and experiential learning, is designed as a way to ensure students graduate on time, Jen Murphy, the assistant vice provost for the OHIO Guarantee Plus Graduation Plans, said. 

“We believe that our retention benchmarks will increase through implementing graduation plans, which creates agency and accountability for the student, the university, and the advisor who is guiding the student through that process,” Murphy said. 

Stage one of the plan was launched in fall 2020 and included 28 academic programs. An additional 107 programs will be included in fall 2021, and the remaining 106 programs will be included in fall 2022. Every student will eventually be able to opt into the program, regardless of their major or academic year. 

The committee discussed other intervention methods to improve retention rates as well. By contacting students who were unregistered for the 2021 Spring Semester, the Persistence Project, led by the Allen Student Advising Center, allowed an additional 202 students to continue in the spring, Kerry Bush, interim dean for the University College, said.

Bob Klein, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, discussed the remodeling of remedial courses through a program called Strong Start to Finish. To get more students enrolled in gateway courses their first year, OU will offer one credit hour “co-requisite” classes for English and mathematics. 

The committee heard from Brad Cohen, senior vice provost for Instructional Innovation, regarding the launch of the new program Innovation Accelerator. The Accelerator will accept new ideas and collaborate with expertise to launch new programs that will benefit the university. 

“We are aiming to use this to improve our program launch process, to identify and remove barriers, and to help those ideas forward as quickly and efficiently as we can,” Cohen said. 

The goal of the accelerator is to launch new programs by as early as fall 2022; however, there are external constraints that may delay the launch, Cohen said. 

Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger reported updates about the upcoming class. Confirmations are ahead of fall 2020 in several categories, including non-residents, international students and underrepresented minority populations. 

Boeninger attributed the growth to the implementation of a test-optional admission pathway, OHIO Admission Promise and expanded in-person visits. 

Following recent national events, the board passed a resolution in which OU will recognize Juneteenth National Independence Day as a university holiday starting June 18, 2021.

Jack Knudson and Sophia Young contributed to this report. 

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