TRUSTEES APPROVE RENOVATION BUDGET, HEAR SEVERAL REPORTS
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio State University Board of Trustees on Friday (10/1) approved a renovation budget for Ohio Stadium, authorized a variety of other construction requests, and heard reports on the Research Commission, Campus Partners and the Farm Science Review.
Trustees approve renovation budget, support temporary hold on projects
Trustees formally increased the budget of the Ohio Stadium renovation project to $187.7 million.
The board took its action on the recommendation of President William E. Kirwan after cost increases associated with construction market conditions pushed expenses beyond the previous $156.7 million budget.
The board resolution also formalized a moratorium on new capital projects by Athletics until the two-year stadium renovation is completed.
"This is a highly complex project that will restore one of the state's great physical treasures," Kirwan said. "The board exercised its usual careful scrutiny in this matter, and its expertise and leadership has been, once again, invaluable as we seek to make the best decisions for Ohio State. The temporary moratorium is an appropriately prudent action, and we deeply appreciate the board's guidance."
Kirwan noted that the new project budget was reached after $7 million worth of cost savings and scope reductions were made following receipt of construction bids that came in higher than expected.
David Williams II, vice president for student and urban/community affairs, who oversees Athletics activities, explained that the renovation project is self-funded and that no state tax dollars or General Funds are involved. The cost increases will be paid for by revenue from club seats, suites and private fund raising.
"No ticket price increases to the general public, including faculty, staff and students, beyond those previously announced are planned at this time to support the stadium renovation," Williams said.
Williams noted that the board also approved the renovation of the stadium scoreboard. This will be funded through increased scoreboard sponsorship revenues and is not part of the stadium renovation project, although related work will be done in concert.
"We have been motivated all along by a desire to preserve the stadium for our students, faculty and staff, and for the people of Ohio," said Andy Geiger, director of athletics. "We have been conscientious in our planning and execution, and we appreciate the board's support. I think the moratorium is appropriate, given all of the factors involved, and we will make the necessary adjustments."
Trustees authorize construction work and approve contracts
The board authorized the university to hire architects and engineering firms for a new technology and conference center on the Newark campus. The facility will include instructional technology, student gathering and activity spaces, and a conference center with an 800-seat auditorium that can accommodate guest speakers and training sessions for businesses.
Funding for the $12 million project will be provided by Central Ohio Technical College ($2.4 million), gifts to the Newark campus ($7.5 million) and future capital appropriations ($2.3 million). The Newark campus also received authorization for a $117,000 renovation to the existing president's suite located on the main floor of Founders Hall, and for replacement of windows in the lower level of Founders Hall at a cost of $73,000.
In other construction business, trustees:
-- Authorized University Hospitals to proceed with replacement of roofing on Dodd Hall and Davis Center at a cost of $925,000, and renovation of two existing surgery facilities in Rhodes Hall at a cost of $500,000. University Hospitals will fund both projects.
-- Authorized the Lima campus to replace switches in Galvin Hall, Cook Hall and the Technical Education Laboratory to reinstate the reliability of the primary power system. Funding for the $125,000 project will come from state appropriations.
-- Approved contracts for the $3 million renovation of Mack Hall to provide program spaces and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance upgrades to house the Stadium Scholarship Program. Funding is provided by university bond proceeds with debt services paid by Housing, Food Services and Event Centers and the Department of Athletics.
-- Awarded contracts totaling $1.2 million to provide wheelchair accessibility and seating space in various lecture halls on campus. House Bill 790 funds the $1.2 million project.
-- Awarded contracts for renovation of science lab facilities on the second floor of Founders Hall on the Newark campus. House Bill 904 and Central Ohio Technical College will fund the $1.2 million project.
-- Received contract reports on the last two phases of the Tuttle Park Place parking garage -- primarily the tenant spaces at the new Shops at Tuttle Park Place. Construction contracts awarded on the completed project total $14 million.
Research Commission priorities outlined
Those in charge of implementing the university's Research Commission report discussed their strategies Friday (10/1) in a presentation to trustees. The 13-member commission of faculty and administrators was created by former President E. Gordon Gee and former Provost Richard Sisson in January 1997. Its report, released in August 1998, recommends ways to improve the management and support of research and scholarship to the point that Ohio State will be recognized as one of the top 10 public research universities in the United States. It currently is ranked 14th in the National Science Foundation annual report of research expenditures.
Of the five priorities established by the commission's steering committee -- building an excellent faculty; integration of research and undergraduate education; graduate education and postdoctoral training; interdisciplinary research; and selected research-related fiscal policies -- trustees were told faculty excellence is the top priority for this academic year.
The goal is to recruit faculty members who hold the highest honors in their field, who will promote national recognition for Ohio State faculty, and to develop the university's most talented faculty to achieve such distinction.
To meet that goal, the steering committee recommends bringing in five faculty members in the next five years who hold the highest honors in their fields, such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize or membership in the National Academy of Science. The measures are different for various disciplines.
"The one thing that is very clear is that Ohio State has the same number of high-quality faculty as any of the other best institutions," said Linda Meadows, assistant vice president for research. "The intent behind the recommendation is, in a well- reasoned way, to bring in high-profile faculty who will promote the high-caliber faculty already here at Ohio State. The concept will not work unless, at the same time, we are supporting and promoting our own faculty."
Administrators are exploring the possibility of increased Research Challenge funding -- funds that are based on sponsored research volume -- from the Board of Regents to support this initiative, and are anticipating launching a program to implement this goal by the beginning of winter quarter. Discussions with faculty will take place during autumn quarter.
Task groups were formed in June to suggest specific actions to put the commission's four other priorities into play. Their final recommendations will go to Edward J. Ray, executive vice president and provost, and then be discussed by University Senate committees, deans and department chairs during autumn quarter. Meadows said an implementation timeline should be completed by the end of winter quarter.
Presenters included Meadows; William A. Baeslack III, interim vice president for research; and subcommittee chairs Marilynn Brewer, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Social Psychology, and David Culver, professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology.
Campus Partners progress report
Terry Foegler, president of Campus Partners, updated trustees on the progress of several Campus Partners programs, including the homeownership incentive program and the University Gateway Center.
"Ohio State's homeownership incentive program has helped faculty and staff members close on 44 homes in the University District, and there are four in the pipeline," Foegler said. The program is designed to promote an increase in the level of homeownership in the University District by offering eligible faculty and staff the opportunity to receive $3,000 in down- payment assistance.
"The University Gateway Center has also come a long way," Foegler said. The Druker Co. Ltd. of Boston was selected as the preferred master developer last spring. Foegler said 80 percent of the property identified for the project has either been bought or is under contract, and Druker currently is working to identify major tenants. Campus Partners hopes the project will include an independent film theater, bookstore, small grocer, university office space, and a wide variety of eating, entertainment and retail establishments.
"Things are going very well with the Gateway Center -- it's consistent with planning and community input," Foegler said, "so we don't think students and community members will be surprised by the kinds of tenants we're looking at."
Farm Science Review
Trustee Karen Hendricks, chair of the board's agricultural affairs committee, delivered a report to the board about Ohio State's 1999 Farm Science Review. An estimated 140,460 visitors attended the event, which ran from Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London. Approximately 600 exhibitors participated in the Review. This year's event featured a special session on genetically modified organisms and other issues important to Ohio agriculture, demonstrations and displays from Ohio State colleges and departments, and an antique tractor pull. The 2000 Farm Science Review will take place Sept. 19-21.
Jill Morelli, University Architect, (614) 292-4458
Linda Meadows, Research, (614) 292-1582
Terry Foegler, Campus Partners, (614) 294-7300