Ohio State’s Board of Trustees met Friday at the Ross Heart Hospital to approve its second set of resolutions for the academic year, including approvals to the sale of land, a fall break and revisions to the university’s retirement plan.
Board meetings are typically held in the Longaberger Alumni House, and the location change was part of a day of dedicating the new James Cancer Hospital, which is expected to get its first patients in a few weeks. The dedication marks the opening of the $750 million building, part of an $1.1 billion overall medical center renovation that was facilitated by a $100 million lead donation from the medical center’s namesake, Les Wexner.
Ohio State also held its ribbon cutting ceremony for the new James Cancer Hospital on Friday afternoon.
President Michael Drake, who began his tenure June 30, is a opthamologist by trade and said he is especially pleased to be at OSU during this time, which he said is a highlight in the university’s 144-year history.
He praised the medical center’s ascent to eminence, particularly noting its impressive observed-to-expected mortality rate, which is currently ranked third by the University HealthSystem Consortium. In 2012, about 25 percent fewer patients died than were expected.
“When I speak of a legacy — there are families who will spend Thanksgiving with a loved one, who, if they had just the average care among the best hospitals in the country, wouldn’t be there,” he said.
Following six committee reports — which received no questions — the board approved all of the resolutions on its agenda.
One measure, a $3.8 million renovation contract to expand the School of Music, was taken off the agenda after conversation in financial committee’s executive session the previous day.
Among other issues, the board gave the university a go-ahead to seek the sale of the land beneath the Red Roof Inn on Ackerman Road and the Panera Bread property on Lane Avenue. The university will also seek to sell additional Neil Avenue properties on south campus.
The board also formally approved a fall break to begin during Fall Semester 2015, an update to OSU’s retirement plan — which gives equal recognition to same-sex spouses — and enhanced benefits for student veterans.
The meeting also saw silent protests from a handful of Jonathan Waters supporters. The protesters showed up with signs and T-shirts that expressed solidarity with the former marching band director, who was ousted July 24 after a two-month investigation found he was either aware of or reasonably should have been aware of a sexualized culture within the band.
Waters has repeatedly defended his leadership of the band, and filed a civil suit against OSU, Drake and Provost Joseph Steinmetz in September. In his suit against the university, he aims for reinstatement and $1 million in damages, although OSU is adamant it will fight the charges and filed a motion for the court to dismiss the case.
The protests were a tamer affair than at the board’s Aug. 29 meetings, where alumni convened to play songs in front of the Longaberger House and the board gave a five-minute forum to hear from a TBDBTL Alumni Club representative, who gave an appeal on Waters’ character.