Home Education Board of Trustees Discusses Ohio Budget Plan, Increases in State Funding

Board of Trustees Discusses Ohio Budget Plan, Increases in State Funding

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The Board of Trustees met for a retreat at the Chillicothe campus on Thursday where President Roderick McDavis presented his report to the trustees, touching on both legislative changes to higher education and the university’s progress with The Promise Lives campaign.

Among the legislative changes is Gov. John Kasich’s proposed increase of 1.9 percent to the budget for higher education, a total increase of $100 million over 2014 and 2015. Kasich also proposed a tuition cap of 2 percent on average tuition and general fees, a decrease from the former cap of 3.5 percent.

“We are grateful to the governor for including that in his budget recommendation and we’re hopeful that that will make its way through the legislature and in fact become reality by the end of the legislative session,” McDavis said during in his presentation.

In addition, McDavis gave an update on The Promise Lives, the university’s campaign to raise funds for mostly academics and scholarships, as well as capital projects.

“We are delighted to share with you and certainly with the public that our new attainment is at $416 million of a $450 million goal,” he said. “The majority of our funds have come from our alumni, over $220 million.”

In an email to the student body, McDavis also detailed a change in the state’s funding model for higher education. If the legislature approves the change, the amount of state share of instruction (SSI) that a university receives will be tied to graduation rates, awarding more funding to universities with higher graduation rates.

According to funding figures for the year 2014 based on Kasich’s proposed budget, all of OU’s campuses – except the Eastern campus, which would receive a decrease of 15.7 percent – would receive an increase in SSI, the Athens campus SSI increasing by 2.4 percent.

However, among some, this measure raises concerns over the link between graduation rates and a student’s race or class.

Tyler Barton, a member of the Ohio University Student Union, called the 1.9 percent increase “petty” and said, “[Graduation] rates for people of color and of low socio-economic backgrounds are significantly lower than they are for wealthy and white people. [Kasich’s new funding model] incentivizes universities to enroll people more likely to graduate in four years.”

Barton suggested that a better funding model would allocate money based on a university’s ability to accept first generation students and students of color or low socio-economic backgrounds and to graduate them at a higher rate than is the average. Barton also raised concerns over grade inflation.

In another meeting between the Academics and Resources committees, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding led the discussion on implementing a guaranteed tuition model.

Designed to give students added security when deciding to invest in a four-year degree, this model would lock first-year students into paying one tuition rate throughout their college career.

During its retreat, the board also approved the next steps for the Housing Development Plan as well as other construction projects like the Peden Stadium turf replacement and renovations of the third floor of Hudson Health Center, among others.

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