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Ohio University's Faculty Senate gathers in Walter Hall to discuss concerns on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. 

Faculty Senate: Body receives updates concerning the outlook for the next few fiscal years

Correction appended.

Ohio University’s Faculty Senate met Monday night to discuss OU’s budget and hear updates on the university’s new Voluntary Separation or Retirement, or VSRP, program. 

Senator for OU’s Chillicothe campus John O’Keefe introduced a second reading of a resolution that ensures that no bonuses will be awarded to deans, vice presidents, presidents, provosts, chiefs or anyone holding a Department of Athletics position with a base salary exceeding the governor of Ohio’s. The resolution stipulates that bonuses will not be awarded for performance during the year in which the elimination of faculty, staff, programs, departments or campuses took place due to claims of financial hardship. 

Senator for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Jacqueline Wolf said the resolution insinuates there is a realm in which bonuses are acceptable, whereas she believes that bonuses have no place in a public institution where faculty is all paid by tax dollars. Other senators also expressed concern regarding the wording of the resolution, especially considering the fact that some believe that bonuses should not be given under any circumstance. 

This resolution was tabled, and will be brought back to Senate at a later date for further discussion. 

Senate also received an update from OU President Hugh Sherman regarding university finances. Sherman said the university is going to be making updates to the budget so the process is more transparent and collaborative. Right now, the administration is finishing up budget meetings for the fiscal year, or FY, 2022, and beginning work on FY23. Though the university is breaking even for FY22, they are anticipating a $35 to $38 million deficit for FY23, Sherman said. 

Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs talked with Senate about the VSRP program in the hopes to rebalance faculties and provide an opportunity for eligible staff and faculty to benefit from the new design of this program. Sayrs said she does not anticipate VSRP to be an option for several years due to IRS regulations and previous VSRP offerings. 

Senate also discussed COVID-19 and how the university is doing as it closes in on the Nov. 15 vaccination deadline. As of right now, Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, said that there are over 1,000 approved vaccine exemptions, and most of them are reasons of conscience and religion. As of now, 91% of the faculty and staff at the Athens campus are fully vaccinated. 

Faculty members from regional campuses expressed they feel nervous about low vaccination rates and the possibility many students may not return after this semester. Ice said there have been issues with data from the Registrar’s Office concerning regional campuses’ vaccination rates, considering many unvaccinated students are already online students. 

Ice is hopeful that once all data issues are cleared up, the vaccination rates will begin to look more positive. 

@paytondaug

pd162120@ohio.edu 

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Provost Sayrs doesn’t anticipate VSRP being an option in the next couple years, when it should’ve said several years. It also used the word “consciousness” instead of “conscience” relating to reasons for vaccine exemptions. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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