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Faculty Senate expresses desire for involvement in easing budget crisis

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Ohio U President Duane Nellis

Faculty Senate addressed its concerns regarding the lack of faculty involvement in financial and academic reform amid a university-wide budget crisis to Ohio University President Duane Nellis at a Monday night meeting.

Nellis introduced a new plan for all vice presidents and deans of the university’s colleges to help alleviate the budget crisis.

“Everything is going to be on the table,” Nellis said. “We’re an academic institution — that’s the core.”

The Ohio U freshman class decreased by 300 students this year relative to the 2018 academic year, according to Nellis. 

The goal of Nellis’ new plan is to establish an academic “strategic initiative” to attract more students to Ohio U by increasing administrative efforts to recruit both more international and undergraduate students, he said.

Concerns about “administrative bloat” — senators’ belief that university colleges contain too many administrators — surfaced as the discussion about budget continued.

Jackie Wolf, a professor in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was the first to question the administration’s recent closed-door meetings regarding budget reform. She expressed her desire for faculty to be represented in these meetings.

Bill Reader, a professor in the Scripps College of Communication, said Nellis did not cause the budget crisis, but he inherited it. Reader instead turned focus to former Ohio U President Roderick McDavis, whose administration operated using a larger budget to expand administrative staff by 17%, leading to the number of administrators exceeding the number of faculty members, he said.

The unsustainable growth during the McDavis administration was referred to as a “bubble” by several senators.

“We want to make sure that the (discussion about the budget) is very interactive with not only faculty but also our classified staff, professional staff, students, et cetera, so we have broad representation as we work through that. I think that’s going to work,” Nellis said.

Focus on strategic initiatives for Ohio U’s educational and financial redesign continued throughout the meeting. Ohio U Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali said the goal was to reimagine academic growth first, which will drive the university toward a sustainable budget.

“We have to do (a) really serious, serious reorganization,” Djalali said. “But what that means (is) we have to do it collectively.”

In other business:

  • The Office of Informational Technology released a statement to faculty members regarding a new system of authorization, eliminating the accessibility of software such as DropBox for faculty members.
  • The General Education model is on track to complete refinement by fall 2021, including integrated, blended and distributed models that offer dynamic credit hour options.
  • Educational Policy & Student Affairs Committee (ESPA) introduced the accelerated pathway resolution, which could allow graduate students to earn their degree faster, for a second reading.
  • Betty Snider, chair of ESPA re-established Ohio U’s service animal policy, stating the only animals permitted in classrooms are “dogs” and “ponies.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to clarify quotes from both President Nellis and Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali.

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