Trustees approve center of excellence, capital improvements

The board of trustees gave its approval Feb. 27 to the next proposed center of excellence at BGSU: Health and Wellness across the Lifespan.

In a Dec. 5 presentation by Dr. Linda Petrosino, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, the board heard that BGSU’s health and wellness programs comprise a “networked center of excellence without walls,” with more than 100 faculty members and nearly 5,000 students in 78 academic programs, research units and student activity groups. These programs have $10.7 million in research grant awards and $900,000 in student support grants in the broad field of health and wellness, as well as more than 300 partnerships with health organizations and agencies in the community.

For more on the proposed center, visit

The next step will be to present the center to the University System of Ohio for approval.

Enrollment update
Albert Colom, BGSU’s new vice provost for enrollment management, provided an update on enrollment at the trustees’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee. “The anchoring idea is that we need a strategic fit between our goals and capabilities and our resources,” he said. Recruiting new students and retaining current students are both important, and BGSU also will develop outreach programs to bring back past students who have left without completing their degree.

Spring enrollment is at 18,969, with 16,064 undergraduates and 2,905 graduate students, Colom said. The University saw a modest improvement in retention from fall 2007 to fall 2008, but a slight decline in new students—also seen at the state’s other institutions.

BGSU Firelands continues to grow at a rapid pace, he said. It saw a 21.8 percent increase in enrollment from spring 2008 to spring 2009.

“Everyone needs to be a retention specialist,” Colom asserted, adding that training could be provided, perhaps online, for all employees interested in learning how to better serve students.

Trustee Michael Marsh recalled the successful campuswide effort in 1997, when enrollment and retention had dropped and student customer service became an important focus for everyone. “You have to believe before you can see,” he said.

Summer enrollment is down a bit but that gap is expected to close this week, as students form their summer plans, Colom said. “We’re doing some heavy-duty marketing to get students here for the summer,” he said.

For next fall, in the current economic environment, the target is to stay even with last year’s enrollment, Colom said. “The focus is on the yield,” he emphasized, meaning that BGSU must work to ensure that more of its admitted students actually choose Bowling Green. Last year’s yield was 32 percent; the goal is to increase that to 33-34 percent, even as the pool of applicants declines due to demographic changes, he said.

BGSU will work to “penetrate existing markets,” Colom said. This includes going back to high schools from which it had historically drawn many students; working with guidance counselors; holding “community college days” and receptions in various cities for prospective students, including transfer students, and hosting “Falcon Fridays” where parents and students can get help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Faculty can make “welcome calls” to admitted students, and a student enrollment call center is being considered for telephone outreach.

Targeted communications to specific audiences—students, parents, transfer students, international students—help tell BGSU’s story, Colom said, and better use of available technology will help track current students so that more outreach can be provided to help keep them progressing toward graduation.

Working with Noel-Levitz, the enrollment management consulting firm, the University can better target those students who are most likely to enroll and be successful at BGSU, Colom said. He also wants to streamline committees in order to identify and focus on a few prime objectives.

President Carol Cartwright pointed out that the cohort graduating in 2004 was unusually large and makes the subsequent lower numbers “look like a drop. But we’ve grown 12 1/2 percent over 10 years. We need a good progression based on our capacity.”

This idea was seconded by Interim Provost Mark Gromko, who stressed that it is important that BGSU “grow strategically and incrementally, tied to the capacity of our individual programs and residence halls.”

Catastrophic Leave Bank
Rebecca Ferguson, assistant vice president for human resources, updated the committee on the progress of the formation of a catastrophic leave bank, to which employees could donate unused sick time for others who have used all of theirs and are faced with a serious illness or family crisis. This has been made possible by House Bill 187, which allows universities to set policies permitting classified staff to contribute to such a bank.

BGSU’s proposed policy is being examined by the Office of General Counsel and the chief financial officer and is nearing completion, Ferguson said. One suggestion is that the name be changed to “leave bank,” and that only sick leave and not vacation time be contributed.

Capital improvements, campus services
Also at the meeting, the trustees looked to the future of residence halls and dining services and acted on current capital projects.

The trustees heard that long-term recommendations for residence halls and dining services should be forthcoming by the end of June. That’s the scheduled completion date for a final report on a master plan for those two facets of campus life.

“This is probably one of the biggest strategic issues facing the University right now,” said Steven Krakoff, associate vice president for capital planning and design. Updating the Financial Affairs/Facilities Committee on the project, he noted that many BGSU residence halls date from the 1960s—with largely cosmetic improvements since—and the success of universities in general is based in part on their ability to positively influence the student experience in various areas, including residence life as well as dining services.

Meetings with consultants began in December, Krakoff said, and housing and dining surveys have each included sessions with focus groups and Web-based surveys. Both online polls have generated roughly 1,400 responses, he pointed out, saying the level of response speaks to the importance of the issue.

The housing study is considering renovations and/or new construction, even beyond campus boundaries, while the dining survey is addressing such factors as meal plans, menu variety, prices and hours of operation.

In addition to assessing conditions at BGSU, the project is taking trends elsewhere into account. The ultimate recommendations will be integrated with academic and enrollment planning, as well as campus master planning, with the goal of producing a specific plan that can be phased in over time, Krakoff said. In terms of residence life, he added, the idea is to get as many students as possible, including graduate students, into BGSU-sponsored housing.

“We’re behind the eightball, and I think we all recognize it,” said Trustee David Levey, referring to campus housing.

Sheri Stoll, chief financial officer, said she hopes the final plan will provide a “road map” for the next 25 years.

Action taken
On a related but more immediate front, the trustees approved replacement of the roof on McDonald Quadrangle, which was last re-roofed in the early 1980s. Leaks there now are affecting freshman student rooms, Stoll said. Nearly 43,000 square feet of roofing will be replaced at an estimated cost of about $1 million.

The project is among several smaller capital issues in the residence and dining halls that can’t be ignored, Stoll noted, calling them “momentum maintainers.”

In a similar vein, roof replacement and/or masonry work was approved for several academic buildings, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million. As a whole, the work constitutes the second summer’s worth of deferred maintenance projects—part of a 10-year plan.

Among the buildings whose roofs will be replaced are the Health Center (the lower roof), Moore Musical Arts Center, Overman Hall (chemical storage area), biology greenhouse, Tucker Center for Telecommunications and West Hall. Spot masonry “tuck pointing” is scheduled for Overman, West, Shatzel and Williams halls, along with the Life Sciences and Psychology buildings.

In other business, the trustees:
• Approved installation of data infrastructure east of Mercer Road to serve, for instance, the recently acquired Huntington Bank building in the Research Park and the future Stroh Center. In addition to providing redundancy, the infrastructure extension will help accommodate the relocation of administrative units to the Huntington building in future years as renovations are done to core campus buildings such as Hanna, University, Moseley and South halls, Stoll said. Cost of the “east data ring” installation is estimated at about $1.2 million.

• Approved the expansion of student parking lots 5 and 12, west of Perry Field House, to compensate for the loss of Lot 6, at Perry Stadium, to the Stroh Center project. The $3.4 million expansion includes new lots north of the field house—as well as an expanded lot to the west—and the relocation of upgraded marching band practice fields to the immediate west of the building. The relocation of Lot 6 parking is necessary to avoid a delay on the planned Stroh Center work.

March 2, 2009