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Trustees approve financials, Stroh

The University Board of Trustees decided many financial matters for the 2010 fiscal year yesterday, including a 2.94 percent increase in residence hall room rates and a 2.86 percent increase in meal plan rates. Chief Financial Officer Sherideen Stoll said the rate increases are part of the University’s annual evaluation of its student services. They hope to provide affordable options to students that are comparable to sister institutions, which are all seeking modest increases as well, she said. ‘These are very difficult economic times,’ Stoll said. ‘We think it is a reasonable amount of increase. We do informally always keep an eye on discussions at [other] institutions.’ Stoll emphasized the importance of remaining competitive. She presented different scenarios in which the University made the requested rate increases and all other institutions made 3 percent increases, and in the meal plan and residence hall scenarios, the University went from being seventh in affordability to fourth among Ohio’s 13 total institutions. The increase in meal plan rates is also due to the USDA forecasted food inflation rate of 4 to 4.5 percent, Stoll said. The board also approved two renovations that will bring the University one step closer to fulfilling its sustainability requirements of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2014, according to the House Bill 251 Energy Conservation Plan. A $7.5 million campus lighting retrofit project has an estimated annual energy consumption reduction of 7.31 percent with a 4.1 year payback period and a $6.6 million heating and cooling system, which would reduce campus energy consumption by 17.49 percent with a payback period of around 2.4 years. ‘It’s a pretty good return,’ Trustee Bob Sebo said.’ The Stroh Center project was also approved, but Stoll said they’ll bring finalized debt funding options before the board in their fall meeting. ‘With the passage of time and changes in expectations … Anderson Arena is not the jewel it perhaps once was,’ she said. ‘There will be no shortage of uses for this facility [Stroh Center].’ Stoll said it’s a normal process for the University to approve the project prior to the funding, which is how the Union was introduced. She said they want to make sure the market is ready to buy University bonds. ‘There’s always a timing issue too,’ she said. Because of the favorable prices in the construction market, Stoll said now is a great time to get into the market. ‘We are going to have a very, very busy next 24 months,’ she said, in reference to planned renovations and projects. The board approved promotions and tenures and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in architecture. ‘This program currently exists as a major in bachelor of science in technology,’ said Interim Provost Mark Gromko, who explained it’s basically a name change at the undergraduate level, but they’re adding a master’s degree. Developing Effective Businesses and Organizations was decided as the University’s next Center of Excellence, along with 21st Century Educator Preparation. Trustee Chair John Harball II said his favorite action items had to do with former President Sidney Ribeau. The board officially renamed the President’s Leadership Academy, a leadership scholarship created in 1997 by Ribeau, the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy. They also decided to name the plaza at the Wolfe Center for the Arts Ribeau Plaza. ‘We honor and thank Dr. Ribeau for his 13 years at the University,’ Harball said. Trustee Michael Marsh said it was fitting to name an open area after Ribeau, who in order to save money, chose to have an inaugural picnic instead of a pricey ceremony when he came to the University in 1995. ‘He was maybe something different than a college administrator … more of an artist that a president,’ Marsh said. Ribeau will be on campus Saturday for the Wolfe Center ground breaking.

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