BGSU continues progress in face of hardship, trustees hear

While the University’s investment picture “hasn’t been pretty,” according to Trustee Michael Marsh in his report to the board of trustees Dec. 5, and Interim President Carol Cartwright related a “grim” economic scenario following her meeting with other Ohio university presidents and Gov. Ted Strickland the previous day, BGSU continues to move forward with many initiatives, the board heard.

Board president John Harbal encouraged the campus community to face the current uncertain times as a family, with cooperation and mutual support, and to “continue to serve our students and one another. There are things we are doing today that we won’t be doing six months from now,” he predicted. “We will have to adjust, just as corporations have to adjust,” he said, adding that unpopular but necessary decisions might need to be made.

Energy Conservation Plan
Also at the board meeting, trustees voted to adopt a plan to conserve energy, in keeping with Ohio House Bill 251 passed early last year. The bill set out goals to reduce energy consumption and promote renewable, alternative and sustainable energy sources. It called for universities to develop a plan for energy conservation and efficiency by Dec. 31 and for the plan to be approved by their board of trustees.

The house bill established a goal of reducing energy consumption and carbon emission levels by 20 percent by the end of fiscal year 2014 as compared with fiscal year 2004. It also calls for exceeding heating, ventilation and air conditioning energy standards for new construction and building renovation projects.

Some of the steps included in the plan presented by Steven Krakoff, associate vice president for capital planning, are setting back temperatures on HVAC systems during normally unoccupied areas (which will result in tremendous savings, he said), adequately funding projects that reduce energy consumption, addressing deferred maintenance, improving infrastructure and dealing with buildings that are in poor overall condition, retrofiting campus lighting, and implementing design standards for energy conservation in all new construction.

CFO Sheri Stoll told the Financial Affairs Committee that many of the energy upgrades can be done in conjunction with renovation projects. She and the capital planning team will work on prioritizing needs and expect to present more information to the board in February.

Department of Environment and Sustainability
The trustees approved the move of the environmental health department from the College of Health and Human Services to the new School of Earth, Environment and Society in the College of Arts and Sciences and the merger of the department with environmental studies to form a new department: environment and sustainability.

Environmental health focuses primarily on the built environment while environmental studies emphasizes the natural environment. Joining them will help promote interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty. The addition of “sustainability” to the department’s name reflects increased focus on the critical necessity of planning for the future and good stewardship of resources.

The new department will be a tenuring academic unit providing students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of science in environmental science or environmental health or a bachelor of arts in environmental policy. The Center for Environmental Programs will be supported by the new department.

The reorganization will foster interaction between related an complementary disciplines. Dr. Gary Silverman, who had been both chair of environmental studies and interim director of environmental programs, is chair of the new department.

While the department will continue to utilize space in the College of Health and Human Services, the office is now in Shatzel Hall.

Co-ops and internships
A new state program emphasizing cooperative education and internship programs represents an excellent funding opportunity while also helping students and business, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard.

Sandra MacNevin, associate vice president for governmental affairs, outlined the Ohio Co-op/Internship Program, which was established in state law in June.

The program will provide funding to colleges and universities for cooperative education and internship programs that formally integrate students’ classroom study with their experience with cooperating employers. The idea behind the competitive awards is to keep the best Ohio students in the state—and in the case of those who left as undergraduates, to bring them back as graduate students—in addition to supporting business growth.

National data shows that 60 percent of students in co-op settings are hired by their employers after graduation, MacNevin noted.

State funding for the program has been set at $50 million per year for five years, from 2010-14. State leaders have said recently that the program remains a priority despite the economic downturn, she added.

The Ohio Board of Regents has scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 29 on a draft of rules that would govern the program. A request for proposals is expected to be released in January, with the announcement of awards anticipated in March.

The program is in keeping with state desires for expanded co-op education and internships. That’s a goal of the Ohio Department of Development, and the University System of Ohio wants the number of students in co-ops and internships to more than double, to 100,000, by 2017.

At BGSU, that number is about 1,400, roughly half of whom are in the College of Technology’s Cooperative Education Program, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. (See Bowling Green students serve co-ops and internships with about 900 employers nationwide, MacNevin said.

A recent survey indicated “the University is decentralized in its administrative approach to credit-bearing and elective co-op and internship programs,” according to a letter from Provost Shirley Baugher and Edward Whipple, vice president for student affairs, to members of a newly formed campus task force. That group, co-chaired by Dean of Students Jill Carr and Matt Webb, director of program advisement in the College of Health and Human Services, is to make recommendations for the co-op/internship component of academic programs.

“We’re looking for a structured and time-specific program that’s integrated into academic curriculum,” said MacNevin.

Enrollment update
On another subject, the committee heard an enrollment update from Baugher, who said current priorities include retention of students from this semester to spring semester as well as recruitment for next fall.

The economy is the “overwhelming reason” students are “stepping out” of school right now, she said. Under a University proposal, such students could take six credit hours online and maintain their eligibility for federal aid in fall 2009.

In many cases, Baugher added, students have been unable to register for spring classes because they have unpaid bills totaling at least $250, which precludes them from registering. And many of those bills are parking tickets, she noted, saying that efforts are under way to meet the needs of students with bills, including identification of alternative strategies that will allow them to enroll for spring.

Greg Guzman, interim vice provost for enrollment management, and Dr. Mark Earley, associate dean for student affairs in the College of Education and Human Development, are co-chairing the BGSU Strategic Enrollment Management Committee. With roughly 25 members from across campus, the committee is charged with establishing a data-driven, five-year enrollment management plan.

December 8, 2008