Home Campus The main takeaways from Duane Nellis’ address to Student Senate

The main takeaways from Duane Nellis’ address to Student Senate

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President Duane Nellis addressed Student Senate Wednesday Sept. 12 at the body's weekly meeting. Photo by Connor Perrett.

Duane Nellis addressed Student Senate to discuss issues that concern the student body.

Ohio University President Duane Nellis addressed Student Senate on Wednesday to discuss topics ranging from tuition hikes, sustainability, and sexual assault.

Potential Tuition Hike:

Nellis discussed the possibility of a tuition hike, citing a variety of factors that led to increased costs and decreased revenue.

The main issue that could lead to increased tuition is the state legislature’s plateau in funding. However, Nellis spoke with both leading 2018 gubernatorial candidates and said both are pro-higher education.

Another financial hurdle facing Ohio U is rising faculty salaries. The university has attempted to save money by limiting raises; last year, the university gave faculty the minimum 1.5 percent raise and some professors left the university as a result, Nellis said.

“We want to be competitive in retaining our staff,” he said.

Decreased revenue is also being attributed to the lower freshmen enrollment. The current class is down 65 members compared to the previous class, which has caused vacancies in dorms, reducing income from housing.

To address this, Nellis has made it a priority to bolster the university’s national image and to increase freshmen and sophomore retention rates, which currently stand at 81 percent; Nellis aims for 85 to 90 percent.

Nonetheless, Nellis said he’s committed to keeping tuition costs low and insists that, relative to the quality of education, Ohio U’s tuition is relatively low. He has also contacted various corporations and alumni to increase the number of scholarships and internship possibilities.

Sustainability:

Nellis emphasized Ohio U’s commitment to environmental protection, both in the past and present. The university is now powered by natural gas and has been coal-free since 2016; Nellis pledged to make Ohio U carbon-neutral by 2050.

Nellis also affirmed that Ohio U is committed to following the regulations set up by the Paris Climate Accords. Out of over 4,000 public and private universities in the United States, Ohio U is ranked number 23 in sustainability.

He cited various environmental awards won by the university, including the Silver Star from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the Tree Campus USA designation.

Sexual Assault:

Nellis addressed the recent spate in campus sexual assaults. He explained that the administration is taking the crimes seriously.

“The last few weeks have been really difficult for our family,” Nellis said regarding the Ohio U community.

Nellis also called for a substantial investment in new surveillance cameras, as well as for students to use a self-enforced buddy system, but more than anything he called for a change in the culture.

“This is not something that’s going to go away tomorrow,” Nellis said. “We need to work together.”

Other Affairs:

Nellis announced that five or six deans will be retiring in the next year. He said that they’ve been in their current positions longer than most people do and that they’ve contributed greatly to the university. Nellis said he’d like to increase the six-year graduation rate at Ohio U.

He ended by talking about leadership and his role in the university

“I’m honored to be your president and I want to be your president,” he said. “… Every one of us has leadership responsibilities … so you can be a leader in all different ways.”

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