The University reached an agreement with its campus police department Dec. 2 when the board of trustees voted to accept a collective bargaining agreement with the International Union of Police Local 103.
Retroactive to April 28, 2005, the agreement extends to April 27, 2008, and grants campus safety employees a 3 percent raise yearly for three years. In addition, they will receive a market adjustment for the first year of $1.80 hourly for police officers and 65 cents hourly for dispatchers.
In other action, the board granted President Sidney Ribeau a 3.25 percent raise and extended his contract two years, through June 30, 2010. Effective Jan. 1, the raise will bring his current salary of $286,443 to $295,752.
This is the first time in three years that Ribeau has accepted a salary increase. In recent years, he has chosen to either decline his raises or donate them back to the University.
The board also approved special fees for students in the Partnerships in Context and Community (PCC) and the Honors residential programs.
PCC had been funded by a five-year grant, but now will require a student fee of $275 per semester in order to continue.
The Honors Program—whose office is moving into Dunbar Hall, the Honors residence hall—plans to increase programming in order to be a more effective connection between the residential and academic aspects of the program. The trustees approved a $150-per-semester fee for those students.
At the Financial Affairs Committee meeting earlier in the day, board members heard Craig Cornell, director of Student Financial Aid, give an overview of the University’s aid programs and their impact on admission, retention and student success.
There is a clear connection between meeting students’ financial needs and attracting and enabling them to continue through to graduation, Cornell said. Financial support, combined with other student-success programs, has helped increase the University’s overall graduation rate, which, compared to institutions with similar demographics, exceeds predictions by 12 percent, he added.
For 2004-05, BGSU awarded $171,911,151 in aid, with 13,569 students, or 68 percent, receiving some assistance, Cornell said. Aside from federal grants and loans, work programs and state grants, institutional aid accounts for 25.7 percent of the total aid awarded.
When tuition increased in 2004, BGSU added significant aid in the form of Access Scholarship Grant programs, which have proven highly successful in attracting and retaining students, Cornell said. For example, the Falcon Soars scholarship, which matches Ohio Instructional Grant funds, helps the neediest students. Students receiving that scholarship have a 78 percent retention rate.
“There’s been a lot of interest in that program,” Cornell told the board. “In fact, the governor has mentioned it in his talks.”
Another access program, the Orange and Brown scholarship, addresses students with both high academic skills and high needs, and has a 92.1 percent retention rate.
In addition, BGSU’s “grid” scholarships, instituted in 1996, take some of the guesswork out of financial planning for students and their families by guaranteeing scholarship money to high-achieving students. The University Professors Scholarship, for example, provides full fees to students with the highest grade point averages, and has a 95.1 percent retention rate.
“It’s an expensive program but it allows us to compete for the best students,” Cornell said.
The “return on investment” is great, he said, noting that, since 1996, BGSU has seen a 32 percent increase in applications. Moreover, in targeted areas, such as the high-achieving and out-of-state students, enrollment has grown by leaps and bounds. There has been a 122 percent increase in students with 30-plus ACT scores since 1996, he said, and a 132 percent increase in out-of-state students. In addition, the number of students of color has increased by 135 percent since 1997.
When asked if the University could ever cut back on any of its financial aid programs, Cornell and Ribeau pointed out that the demographic of college-age students in Ohio is flat and expected to remain so until 2026. That, together with the falling graduation rate in the state, makes for a very competitive environment for attracting students, and incentives for out-of-state students will be increasingly important. “In Ohio,” the president added, “over 40 percent of students are still first-generation college students, and they tend to have the greatest need.”
“If we don’t maintain and even increase our aid, we might find ourselves going in the opposite direction,” Cornell concluded.
Also at the committee meeting, Dr. Christopher Dalton, senior vice president for finance and administration, presented the results of a review of state-owned educational facilities based on their condition. The state’s campus academic buildings are facing “block obsolescence,” the report says, and are in need of renovation.
BGSU has several buildings, notably Jerome Library and the Life Sciences Building, in need of major rehabilitation, according to the report. The cost to update the library would range from $18 million to nearly $23 million, the report finds. Similarly, the Life Sciences Building would cost between roughly $16 million and $20 million to renovate.
Unfortunately, the amount allocated by the state for capital improvements has dropped, Dalton said, and BGSU is now receiving only $12-$14 million every other year, “which gives us a handle on the magnitude of the problem.”
Donors, preferring to give to scholarships, tend to be reluctant to give to buildings and are even less likely to pay for their upkeep, Ribeau pointed out.