The Ohio University Board of Trustees discussed issues ranging from the president’s interim replacement to the controversial issue of whether to allow concealed carry weapons on OU campuses when they met last Thursday and Friday.
On Friday morning, the board discussed the ongoing debate over HB 48, which deals with campuses’ ability to decide whether they will allow concealed carry permit holders to be armed on campus. The Board of Trustees will have the final say, but it is taking input from many outside sources, including Student Senate, Faculty Senate and others.
The trustees’ main concern was chiefly about the manner in which they should go about seeking input, along with what information was needed to make a decision. Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit suggested sending out a survey as some other Ohio schools have done since the bill was signed into law. Other members of the board thought the decision should be based less on outside factors and more on common principles, such as the desire to keep students safe.
“This is not a democratic issue to me,” Trustee Ronald Teplitzky said. “It doesn’t matter what my own personal views are. One of our jobs, and maybe our most important job, is the safety of the students.”
Before going into their Friday executive session, trustees briefly touched on their views about the university becoming a sanctuary campus. Although no official decision was reached, concerns were raised about the possible loss of federal funding that could result.
In a later Friday session, the board named David Descutner interim president. Descutner will replace President Roderick McDavis after his last day on Feb. 17. McDavis begins his new position as managing principal and chief executive officer of AGB Search on March 1.
“Any time you look for a president, interim or permanent, you’re looking for certain qualities. Certainly communication skills. And Dr. Descutner is right at the top of that list in terms of his ability to effectively communicate,” McDavis said.
Additionally, trustees discussed a tuition increase, which is aimed at accounting for future changes in the state budget as well as maintaining university standards.
“Quality is highly valued at Ohio University in terms of our academic programs,” McDavis said. “The cost goes up every year for producing quality in the classroom. And so, whether we’re talking about faculty salaries, whether we’re talking about utilities, whether we’re talking about maintenance — whatever we’re talking about, the cost goes up on an annual basis.”
The 2 percent tuition and general fee increase for all Athens campus students not covered by the OHIO Guarantee will go into effect during the 2017-18 school year. Next year’s freshmen class will pay an increased rate of 3.3 percent, making the base tuition rate for an Ohio resident $12,132 per year.
The Board of Trustees will meet again on March 17.