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Board of Trustees discusses COVID-19 impact on university

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The Board of Trustees approved renovations to Shively Dining Hall and James Hall. President Nellis announced search for VP of Advancement and President of the OU Foundation. Photo by Cole Berehns.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees discussed how other Ohio colleges are competing with Ohio U over student enrollment, how much the coronavirus may cost the university in the coming year and a decrease in student organization funding during their meeting Monday.

Ohio State University is shifting its admission tactics to admit more in-state students in response to less international and out-of-state students who are interested in attending due to COVID-19, according to Candace Boeninger, interim vice provost for enrollment management.

This could impact Ohio U’s enrollment, as 1,259 students who were accepted to both schools in 2019 chose to go to OSU over Ohio U.

In addition to pressure from OSU admitting more Ohio natives, less freshman students will be attending Ohio U than in the past. At this time last year, 3,832 students had declared their intent to attend fall classes at Ohio U. Right now, 3,519 students have made similar declarations.

Ohio U continues to hit higher retention rates — or the percent of students continuing at the same university after their first year — with the retention rate for 2019 at 82%. In 2014, it was 79.1%.

Boeninger said she doesn’t expect an increase in adults going back to school during the economic downturn.

“We looked at some historical data and see that, for our type of institution, we probably shouldn’t count on (returning adult students),” Boeninger said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t try to capture those students who are looking to re-school, and we have plans in place to do that.”

The Board of Trustees was also presented with various scenarios for how COVID-19 may further impact Ohio U’s revenue in the future. It was estimated that if no students return to campus fall semester, it could cost the university an estimated $26.4 million. 

In the event that students don’t return to campus for both fall and spring semester, the university would take a financial hit of $55.1 million. This loss of revenue would primarily stem from housing and dining services not operating.

Representatives from Student Senate also gave a presentation to the Board concerning the lack of funding for student organizations. Student Senate funds most clubs at Ohio U through the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC), which distributes money to student organizations after they submit a request.

Student organizations at Ohio U have seen a renewed interest in recent years with more students joining and creating organizations. But there was also less funding available for these student organizations.

“Over the most recent years the contributions we received from different departments and university funding sources not associated with the Department of Student Affairs has diminished,” Richard Danylo, the interim treasurer for Student Senate, said. “The contributions we do receive from the Department of Student Affairs have remained stagnant.”

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