Working with leaders across the state of Ohio, we engage to promote Ohio State priorities in the annual budget, bills that affect public education funding, research, public retirement systems, safety and more as they impact our students, faculty, staff and research at the university.
The state completed its work on SB 310, the FY 17 – FY 18 capital budget in May. The legislation fully funded the 2016 Ohio Higher Education Capital Funding Commission recommendations derived by a panel established by Governor Kasich. The Ohio State University actively participated in the development of the report and communication of the need for state investment in public higher education facilities. The report can be found here. The bill appropriates over $2.6 billion for “bricks and mortar” capital projects around Ohio, and higher education received $536.6 million. Detailed summaries of the legislation can be viewed online here.
The Ohio State University received $26.4 million for Koffolt/Fontana Laboratory renovations, $26.0 million for a partial replacement of Postle Hall and approximately $42.3 million for other renovation and upgrade projects at the Columbus and regional campuses. Ohio State received $94.7 million in new capital moneys.
A reappropriations bill, SB 260, also was enacted this year. State capital appropriations in Ohio must be reauthorized every two years or the funds will lapse. This year, an effort was made by the General Assembly to lapse or repurpose previously approved capital dollars. Ohio State successfully preserved our pending prior-year capital appropriations.
Higher Education Performance Audits
HB 384, a measure designed to authorize the Auditor of State to conduct performance audits of state institutions of higher education, was approved in December. The auditor is prohibited from including academic issues in this audit. Ohio State announced it would collaborate with the Auditor of State’s office on the initial performance audit in an effort to drive efficiencies that will provide opportunities for cost savings and improved services.
Public Retirement Systems
HB 520, legislation that revises laws governing Ohio’s public retirement systems. One component of the bill that received a great deal of testimony concerns the mitigating rate applied to those higher education public employees who participate in an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). The bill creates a formula for setting the mitigating rate for OPERS, STRS and SERS with the ceiling set by this measure for all three plans at 4.5 percent of an ARP participant's compensation that must be paid by a public institution of higher education to the respective public pension plan. Under current law, OPERS mitigating rate is .77 percent, STRS is 4.5 percent and SERS is percent. Other pending legislation (HB 311) that did not pass would have potentially allowed the STRS mitigating rate to increase substantially above the ceiling enacted in HB 520.
Co-Located Campus Task Force
The state created a task force in HB 391 to review shared governance at co-located campuses where regional branches of four-year institutions and community colleges are on the same or adjoining campus. Ohio State was able to secure two of the nine task force slots with Trustee Alex Fischer and Provost Bruce McPheron. During the meetings of the task force, Ohio State’s regional deans and their two-year counterparts publicly testified about the existing policies and procedures that allow for collaboration and shared services on our four co-located campuses.
The task force made the following recommendations:
- Co-located campus leaders should pursue shared services when they result in higher value and lower costs for students. Campus leaders should formalize shared services agreements and focus on continuous quality improvement, with metrics.
- The state should establish an incentive fund to encourage institutions to invest in shared services.
- The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) should inventory “best practices” in shared services to encourage co-located campuses and other HEIs to regularly review and consider shared services as a means to improve academic and other services for students and reduce costs.
- Co-located campuses should annually review best practices, and there should be ongoing accountability.
- Where possible, co-located campuses should work together to develop and manage the campus master plan and other plans in which collaboration will enhance services and/or lower costs for students.
- “Shared governance” may be achieved by a trustee or advisory board member who attends either advisory board or governing board meetings, respectively, as a non-voting member. The purpose of this “shared” trustee or advisory board role is to enhance collaboration, communication and shared services for the benefit of students and their success. The Task Force believes that a non-voting member in a shared governing-advisory board role addresses the Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency Report recommendation for “joint oversight” on co-located campuses.
Best Practices for Responding to Sexual Violence
The FY16-17 state budget charged the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) with developing model best practices for preventing and responding to campus sexual assault and allocated $2 million to support the initiative. The work culminated in the “Changing Campus Culture: Preventing & Responding to Campus Sexual Violence,” released by ODHE in October 2015. Ohio State President Dr. Michael V. Drake played a leading role in the development of the report and recommendations. Ohio State continues to play a key role in sharing best practices and collaborating with the state on the issue.
Ohio State by the numbers
From courses to research expenditures and enrollment, see how the university is impacting students, faculty and staff across the state in Ohio State’s statistical summary.
In an era of rising costs and competition, Ohio State is taking steps to provide education that is both affordable and excellent. A comprehensive freeze in tuition costs as well as expanded student aid options are just some of the ways Ohio and The Ohio State University are working to make an excellent higher education more affordable and accessible to students.
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