Monday, January 26, 2009

OU Board of Trustees Passes Budget Proposals

by Megan Gorey

The Ohio University Board of Trustees met for two days last week at the Ohio University-Eastern Campus in St. Clairesville to debate the new budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. The first day was closed to the public while the members of the board discussed the full details of the resolutions, but Friday's meeting was an open forum as the board officially voted on the proposals. Although it seemed that board members easily passed the resolutions, Board Chairman Daniel DeLawder explained that discussing proposals and making decisions is like being in a play production. "You rehearse for nine months and then perform for two hours," said the Chairman.

Student Information System
After months of research and planning, funding for the $41.4 million Student Information System (SIS) was decided. Half of the project cost will be paid for with a quarterly student technology fee while budget resolutions and relocation of other funds will cover the rest of the costs. Chairman DeLawder expressed the difficulties and importance of the project.

Chairman C. Daniel DeLawder stresses the SIS project

The university had proposed to cover the rest of the costs of the system with bonds in 2012. But now the goal of university officials is to choose smaller, more frequent bonds during these challenging economic times.

Academic Research Center
During the January meeting last year, the Board of Trustees had approved the construction of an Academic Research Center with a budget of $30 million. However, alterations of the construction plan and stock market troubles required the Board to pass a revised resolution for an additional $7.4 million to complete the project. The building is set to include:

*14 laboratories
*11 offices
*5 classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors
*A connecting bridge to West Green Plaza leading to Stocker Hall

The additional funding was raised with the help of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Russ Research Center, the Russ College of Engineering, and an internal university loan. The Board's approval of the budget brings the total project cost to $34.5 million.

Campus Construction Costs
Other 2009 miscellaneous capital projects include:

*$2.9 million to replace the roofs on residence halls
*$500,000 to replace the boilers in two New South Green halls
*$900,000 to upgrade the Convocation Center bathrooms

Facing Financial Crisis
Although the university is facing budget cuts and is discussing plans of voluntary early retirement, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) incentive proposals, and employment separation options, President McDavis remains optimistic about the condition of Ohio University.

President McDavis and Chairman DeLawder both spoke about the progress of the university last year in comparison with other state schools. In 2007, the university ranked 12th out of 14 institutions but moved up to 6th place in 2008. Both also praised the university's improved student retention rate.

President McDavis speaks about Ohio University's strengths

The Full Report
The complete 264 page January Agenda includes a comprehensive Report of the President, Report of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Report of the Chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, as well as the standing committee reports, actions, and informational items. The Board of Trustees holds its next meeting on April 24, 2009.

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