Trustees extend alternative retirement plan to classified staff

Many BGSU classified staff members may now choose an alternative retirement plan.

The board of trustees on Sept. 30 expanded the option to classified staff to comply with a recent change in Ohio law that extended eligibility for participation in such a plan to all full-time employees of public colleges and universities.

Full-time faculty and administrative staff gained the alternative retirement plan option in January 1999, but classified staff members weren’t eligible under the law at that time.

Thomas Trimboli, general counsel, said the option will be available to newly hired classified staff and to those with less than five years’ service at the University as of last Aug. 1. The amendment to BGSU’s plan allows participants to divide their retirement account among multiple providers, he added.

Lorrie Sawaie, Student Academic Achievement and vice chair of Classified Staff Council, welcomed the board’s action and said “it brings some equity across the playing field.”

On another matter, the trustees endorsed the establishment of a non-profit research institute to promote commercialization of faculty-developed innovations.

Although commercialization has academic benefits for students and researchers and can lead to an increased number of sponsored research awards, BGSU has not pursued it, Trimboli pointed out. A primary reason, he continued, is “the lack of specialized expertise and a dedicated effort” to promote the marketing of University inventions.

Commercialization involves multiple strategies, including marketing to existing companies, starting wholly owned new companies or sharing equity ownership in start-up companies with outside investors, Trimboli noted.

Many universities in Ohio and other states have established research foundations to encourage and market their inventions. Because Ohio law doesn’t allow a state entity to have an ownership interest in a private company, BGSU’s proposed institute would be separate and independent, and therefore capable of taking an ownership interest, if appropriate, he said. Funding is being sought.

“If we’re going to be competitive as a research institution, the institute will give us a tool to stimulate research,” added President Sidney Ribeau.

Also at the meeting, the trustees approved a request for state capital funding that will be submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents.

In the request, priority projects for fiscal years 2007-08 are an addition to the Student Health Center and replacement of the Saddlemire Student Services Building.

The health center addition will create new square footage for Student Health Services, the Wellness Center, the Counseling Center and Disability Services. Existing health services space will be renovated as well, to accommodate the movement of the Medical Technology program from the Life Sciences Building, where needed laboratory space will be freed up as a result.

A feasibility study of the Saddlemire building indicated that it would cost 5 percent more to renovate the existing structure than to build a new one. In addition, space utilization would be more efficient in a new building than in the current round one. Those factors, along with the space needs of the planned Wolfe Center and the desirability of placing it between the music and fine arts centers, have led to the decision to replace Saddlemire with a new, smaller student services building elsewhere on campus.

The new facility would house the Student Affairs, Student Employment, Cooperative Education, Multicultural Affairs and Student Legal Services offices, as well as the Career Center.

The request asks for $17,850,000 in state funds for the two projects, and projects the local share of funding for them at $31,790,000.

The priority project for fiscal years 2009-10 is University Hall rehabilitation, while those listed for 2011-12 are rehabilitation of Hanna Hall, Moseley Hall and utility infrastructure.

In other Sept. 30 business, the trustees:
Directed the administration to meet immediately with representatives of the International Union of Police Associations Local 103, representing campus police, to continue negotiations on a new contract. The directive came in conjunction with the board’s rejection of a fact-finder’s recommendation that base pay rates for union members increase by 45 percent over the next three years.

The previous three-year pact between the University and Local 103 expired last April.

Ratified a preliminary agreement with Calderon Properties Ltd. to proceed with investigations of development of Calderon-owned property at Interstate 75 and Dunbridge Road. Completion of a feasibility study is expected in early 2006.

A Calderon representative inquired last fall about the University’s interest in development of the property, and the two parties are exploring the possibility of a mixed-use complex that BGSU would lease from the company.

The facility could serve academic needs—as a site to establish new learning communities and explore the use of alternative energy sources, for example—as well as providing reasonably priced housing for students and new faculty.

Mandated health insurance coverage for undergraduate students, effective next fall. The requirement includes a “hard waiver” provision, meaning that students who already have adequate insurance can opt out of the BGSU-offered plan, said Dr. Glenn Egelman, director of Student Health Services.

Requiring coverage will help ensure that students have adequate insurance, which, in turn, could help with controlling costs and retaining students who have health issues, Egelman said.

Granted emeritus status to retired faculty members F. Dennis Hale, journalism; Linda Lander, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, and Floris Wood, University Libraries.

October 3, 2005