The Board of Trustees convened this week, discussing a number of measures that would alter future costs for students.
In its finance committee meeting, the trustees previewed their impending June decision on what will happen with tuition, meal plans and housing for the 2015-16 academic year.
In-state students are looking at a potential maximum increase in tuition by 2 percent for the 2015-16 school year, but this will ultimately be determined by the support given to state schools in Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget.
Last year, the Board of Trustees voted to freeze tuition for in-state students at $10,037 for the 2014-15 academic year. For out-of-state students, however, the board increased the out-of-state surcharge 5 percent, raising tuition to $26,537.
Other costs finalized in the June meeting include housing costs, which are expected to increase 6 percent each year for 10 years due to the construction costs of the North Campus Residential District Transformation Project. Current room and board costs sit at $11,666 and a compounding rate would put it at $20,892 in 2025.
The trustees also approved a new construction project Friday that would replace the roofs on five or six campus buildings. This project is set to cost $6.3 million.
Additionally, the Board will revisit and finalize the costs of the university’s new meal plans, which were announced earlier this month.
The trustees also voted Friday to waive certain fees that students had previously been required to pay while studying abroad.
For at least the next two years, OSU students will not have to pay instructional and general fees to OSU while studying abroad in direct enroll programs or third-party providers approved by the university.
The Ohio Revised Code requires all students enrolled in the state’s public universities to pay that base tuition regardless of the number of credits a student takes.
OSU students who studied abroad in previous years had to effectively pay tuition twice, with charges to OSU and to the host institution as well.
The board approved a one-year waiver in 2014, and it extended that waiver Friday for the next two financial years, corresponding with the state’s biennial budget plan. The Board of Regents will have to approve the waiver.
The board’s audit and compliance committee addressed new concerns surrounding Title IX and pension responsibilities Thursday.
Chief compliance officer Gates Garrity-Rokous said he expects Washington to expand Title IX and Clery Act responsibilities for universities in the coming months, and OSU’s compliance office is currently working to meet new standards.
Garrity-Rokous said he expects a university agreement with the Office of Civil Rights to be completed by the fall. The university had just struck a prior deal with the OCR in September after a four-year investigation into Title IX violations at OSU.
Outgoing chief financial officer Geoff Chatas said at that meeting that he is generally pleased with the university’s self-auditing procedures, although he expressed concern over the efficacy of OSU’s current monitoring of its Global Gateways.
Audit and compliance chair Jerry Jurgensen agreed that Bricker Hall needs to take another look at its current practices, noting that the Global Gateways are especially hard to keep track of since “they tend to be small and they tend to be far away.”
The committee also discussed concerns over liability responsibility of a $2.7 billion pension pool from Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Changes in the management of OPERS has led to concern that OSU could suddenly be liable for a part of that pool, but Chatas said he currently believes the state will cover the costs.
In the academic affairs and student life committee meeting Thursday, provost Joseph Steinmetz reviewed developing changes in OSU’s academics.
OSU is currently working on expanding its eLearning. For this academic year, it offered 10 all-online general education classes, which Steinmetz said got 2,300 enrollees. He said OSU plans to boost the number of online gen-eds for the fall up to 25 and to make it easier for high schoolers to take them. OSU’s brand puts its online classes in high demand for high school students.
Despite declining interest in the school, Steinmetz announced a $5 million investment into the arts and humanities in February, and told the board Thursday that he wants OSU to find “a landmark niche” in the same way Stanford University has done with “digital humanities.” Steinmetz said the investment would be exclusively used on programs that promote collaboration and would make a statement about the importance of the humanities in the 21st century.
Despite a positive assessment on the progress of the Discovery Themes, trustee Janet Reid expressed concern that the university’s current academic scorecards will be inadequate to measure the effectiveness of OSU’s new academic initiatives.
“How can we measure that we are making discoveries from the Discovery Themes focus?” Reid said.
Board chair Jeffrey Wadsworth said there does need to be new benchmarks on whether OSU is meeting its goals, but said measuring innovation can be a quantitative nightmare. Wadsworth said values of patents, monetization of new technology and the winning of competitive grants could be a start to measure a normally subjective virtue.
Vice president for student life Javaune Adams-Gaston gave an update to the committee on the progress of the Second-year Transformational Experience Program, now in its second year.
Adams-Gaston said the programs development is progressing steadily, but said her office has noted certain apathies among some participants.
“Not all of the student want to experience one of those six experiences, even though there’s funding,” she said.
Amanda Etchison contributed to this article.