Ohio State’s Board of Trustees discussed campus crime, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, student population diversity and a new fall break during its committees’ Thursday meetings.
The full Board is set to convene Friday to approve proposed measures.
Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Administration and Planning, addressed the issue of campus crime at the Board’s Thursday finance committee meeting.
“We are running four incidents above our budget,” Kasey said. “ We’ve had a spike in campus vehicle crime. On off-campus crime, statistics show we are at about 70 (crimes) over our goal.”
Kasey said the Administration and Planning sector has put a new force of security agents in off-campus neighborhoods for improved safety.
Committee members also discussed the Comprehensive Transportation and Parking Plan, which is meant to enhance the university’s parking, transit and transportation systems.
The Comprehensive Transportation and Parking Plan includes making the university a “park once” campus with the implementation of an express shuttle service to parking lots. Stronger safety measures for bicyclists and pedestrians would also be enforced.
President Michael Drake talked about his short- and long-term goals for the university, focusing on five areas he wishes to improve: the OSU Wexner Medical Center, academic excellence, talent and culture, financial stability and presidential relationships.
Drake said he does not find these things to be broken in any way.
“When I say, ‘there are things we might do better,’ it doesn’t mean we don’t do a great job focusing on those things,” he said. “I don’t want that to be misinterpreted as something that needs fixing but just an opportunity to take something great and make it even better.”
Regarding the Wexner Medical Center, he emphasized maximizing performance for both universities and academic medicine.
He also said he wants to maximize academic research programs to improve the academics in the university.
As far as talent and culture, Drake emphasized strengthening a university-wide culture of diversity and inclusion to attract and retain the best faculty, staff and students.
He also said he will introduce a five-year financial plan for the university that is meant to balance revenue generation with expense reduction.
Drake’s final point emphasized that he wants to strengthen his relationships with external constituencies, including the nearly 500,000 Buckeye alumni, the state and federal government and the Great Lakes and Midwest region. Students, faculty and staff, however, remain “critical constituencies” to him.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to assess and prioritize where I think I can personally have the greatest impact for the university,” he said.
The search for a new undergraduate student trustee will “take off in the next couple weeks” said current undergraduate student trustee Stacie Seger, a fourth-year in agricultural communication.
Seger’s term is set to expire in 2015.
The position is open for any undergraduate student who is a citizen and resident of Ohio, is in good academic standing, and will remain a student during their service to the Board.
Audit and compliance
At Thursday’s meeting, the Audit and Compliance Committee discussed how OSU’s compliance with the Big Ten Conference standards is on track.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University, the Big Ten began requiring in 2013 that its 14 schools create a new set of accountability and responsibility standards. The meeting’s agenda states that the implementation of these standards and how to govern them at OSU is on schedule. Some of the new standards include preventing “undue influence by athletic coaches and staff” and reporting incidents that occur.
Vice president and athletic director Gene Smith said during the meeting that the standards in place at OSU are among the best of all Big Ten colleges, though access to the reports from the other schools won’t become available until after Dec. 7.
The university’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act was also discussed by the committee. According to the meeting’s agenda, the virtual accessibility is listed as “high/moderate risk” as the university continues to work with the Office of the Chief Information Officer and Student Life on finding new ways to expand distance learning and content creation for disabled students.
Academic affairs and student life
The recent outcomes of Discovery Themes — a $400 million plan to extend area-specific university research and bring in expert faculty — were highlighted by Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz at the academic affairs and student life committee meeting Thursday.
So far the university has posted 39 Discovery Theme-based faculty members and awarded funds to seven initial areas of investment, costing a total of $120 million, Steinmetz said.
Each of these faculty will contribute to and further the three overarching themes of energy and environment, food production and security, and health and wellness, he said.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of progress made,” Steinmetz said. “I like to think of what we’re doing as putting the meat on the bones of what the Discovery Themes are becoming.”
The 39 positions comprise approximately 21 percent of the 185 new faculty hires the Discovery Themes initiative projects to bring in by 2020.
The 2010-15 Enrollment Plan has met many of its goals, including an increase of total university enrollment, graduate student population and average student ACT scores, said Dolan Evanovich, vice president of strategic enrollment planning.
The university has also increased spending on both merit and need-based aid, but Evanovich’s data showed that funding for merit-based aid has been steadily higher than funding for need-based aid by more than $20 million for the past five years.
Amid these positive increases in student enrollment, there was a set of figures that the committee explored — the diversity of the student population. Between 2013-14, there was a decrease of in-state students who identify themselves as minorities, Evanovich said.
“We have to work hard to attract African-American students,” he said, noting that Ohio has a less ethnically diverse population than many Western and Southern states.
The committee also announced its approval of a mid-Fall Semester break, which needs final authorization from the entire Board on Friday, but if approved, would be implemented in 2015.
The break would consist of an extended weekend in the middle of Fall Semester, with a consecutive Thursday and Friday off, causing the semester’s classes to start one day earlier and to conclude one day later, according to the agenda.
The financial report presented at the advancement committee meeting Thursday stated that the “But For Ohio State” fundraising goal for this point has already been surpassed, with more than $2 billion raised.
The “But for Ohio State” campaign aims to raise $2.5 billion by 2016.
Eighteen of the 30 units have surpassed their own campaign progress goal, while areas including the Fisher College of Business, the OSU Wexner Medical Center and the OSU Lima and Marion branch campuses are behind on their fundraising goals.