“Welcome week was a huge success,” Dean Tuck said. “In talking with students, they continually remark that the campus feels like family and that faculty and staff members care about them. Opening events have captured that spirit.”
Preliminary numbers indicate that enrollment will be strong for fall semester. Although numbers are not final, applications are up 15 percent and the number of admitted students is up 17 percent from fall 2012. It is anticipated that the campus’ headcount enrollment will be around 2,300 students for the fall term. Those are the highest enrollment gains of any of Ohio University’s five regional campuses, the dean said.
In terms of recent physical improvements, renovations to the Hilltop Café put the campus’ food offerings on par with other campuses across the state, especially in terms of fresh, convenient culinary options. On a commuter campus that is without residence halls, it is particularly important to take these steps that support a campus “hub” where students can gather together informally.
The campus bookstore and café are under the operation of Ohio University Auxiliaries Services, but the change will not impact the level of service, Dean Tuck noted.
Besides the café renovations, other major physical projects undertaken over the summer include a new Shoemaker Center roof and the ongoing construction of offices in the Quinn Library for Information Technology staff members, freeing up space in Bennett Hall for other purposes.
Academic enhancements include new computers in classrooms and smartboards in some classrooms. Also, the Next Gen initiative is providing more efficient wireless computer service on campus.
Regarding academic programming enhancements, the campus has added a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree program in a traditional format. The program builds upon the introduction of an accelerated bachelor’s degree program in fall 2012.
“When we consider adding academic offering, we look at programs that align with career opportunities in the region as well as student interest,” the dean said.
The dean also provided a recap of the recent annual campus strategic planning session. The dean said that this is phase two of the strategic plan implementation, building upon an effort that began last fall. The dean emphasized that the strategic plan, which looks five years in the future, is a draft and he looks for further input, as was offered at the planning meeting.
“The recent planning retreat is the second phase of the strategic planning process that began last year, and we are starting to put pen to paper,” Dean Tuck said. “This is a blueprint of where we want to go as a campus and a guide for how we will make decisions in areas such as finances, personnel and academic. It is important that everyone participate. As a campus, this is our plan; it is not just the dean’s plan.”
The three areas of emphasis or the 2013-14 academic year are:
• Academic priorities
• Facilities and Information Technology
• Communications and Marketing
Another campus-wide meeting will be held in the spring to review and revise plans.
Changes in university operations and state funding for higher education could impact OU-C operations and priorities.
The dean noted that the university’s Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) model is being phased in and will be fully operational in fall 2014. “Basically, the money we generate we can use for expenses,” Dean Tuck said. “This is not a new model for regional campuses. However, it will impact how we pay for services provided by the Athens campus and we will be linked more to the Athens campus in terms of how we do budgeting.”
“Also, the state subsidy model puts more of an emphasis on degree and course completion. Consequently, student-retention becomes more important. Recent changes we have made to help students succeed, such as the Student Success Center, have special impact,” Dean Tuck said.