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Ohio U president addresses budget crisis solutions at annual faculty convocation

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Duane Nellis. File photo by Connor Perrett.

Ohio University President Duane Nellis addressed faculty members and staff Thursday afternoon at an annual convocation about the university’s latest strategic initiatives.

A driving theme of the president’s presentation was the idea of being “fearlessly first” in steering the university toward new and creative initiatives, such as solutions to help alleviate the university-wide budget crisis.

Nellis attributes the university’s poor budget to an increase in students transferring credits from high school through programs such as College Credit Plus and Advanced Placement classes, which he discussed at a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this week, The New Political reported. These options allow students to take fewer classes in college and earn their degree faster.

To reform its budget, the university plans to focus on existing enrollment trends and invest in strengthening academic programs, Nellis said.

Other notable initiatives included “One Ohio Integration,” a program implemented in 2019 that consolidated all academic and administrative roles across regional campuses into a centralized system.

The university, for example, no longer requires more than one physics department across Ohio U campuses, Nellis said.

“We can’t focus just on the budget. We have to take calculated risks,” Nellis said. “We must replace our current budget model with one that promotes funding decisions that allow us to pivot toward new academic initiatives with a focus on the academic dimensions of our university.”

The president also emphasized a general education reform, as the university will launch a new academic curriculum in fall of 2021 designed to prepare students for the workforce with highly-valued skills such as communication and critical thinking, according to the Office of the President’s website.

“We are Ohio’s first university, and we will be fearlessly first to the future,” Nellis said during his closing statements. “Great changes and improvements aren’t made in Cutler Hall, they are made in our classrooms and or offices on all of our campuses, they are made possible by all of us working together.”

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