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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 discusses new programs, majors

Ohio University’s Board of Trustees met Thursday to hear from the Academics and Student Success Committee. 

The Committee discussed a number of updates concerning future academic planning and strategy. The current process focuses on academic quality, enrollment, student success, student experience and financial sustainability. 

The launch goals of new academic programs were also discussed. The Board’s main concern is the timeline of these program launches, as well as the efficiency, alignment with student needs and the tools the programs will need in order to be launched. 

The Program Innovation Accelerator was also discussed by the Board, as well as how it can help identify the obstacles that come with starting new programs. The Committee announced it is planning to put out a new call for another round of ideas in the spring of this year. 

Sarah Wyatt, a professor and director of molecular and cellular biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke about the new environmental science and sustainability major, which works across 11 departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Admissions began this spring. 

“Students would come to me all the time and say, ‘Well, I’m really interested in the environment, but I don’t know if I should (be in) this department,’ … there’s all these different degrees around campus,” Wyatt said. “It became really obvious to me, over the last few years especially, that the environment (and) environmental issues are interdisciplinary.”

A concern of this new program was the number of available advisors, as they usually advise out of their home department, but the program will require advisors from across many different departments.

Publicity of the launch was also a concern of the Committee as the state of Ohio did not approve this program until later, which left little time to advertise within OU. 

The Committee also discussed the creation of two other majors, including data science and analytics and a Bachelor of Science in business. 

Paige Fisher and Payton Daugherty contributed to this report.

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