OU Trustees Discuss $100 Million Debt

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Ohio University may be taking on an additional $100 million in debt to pay for deferred maintenance projects.

During the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday on the Athens campus, OU's President Roderick J. McDavis along with several other board members agreed that taking on the debt would be a good move. 

"I would recommend we move forward. I think what you saw this morning was a nice slice of our academic buildings that are in need of repair, as of yesterday," McDavis said to the room of trustees.

Earlier Thursday the trustees explored various buildings on campus that officials say need some work. Some deferred maintenance projects include Ellis and Morton Hall, a major renovation of the Alden Library, the West Union Street Office Center and Lasher Hall.

The additional debt would make OU the second highest indebted university in the state. Currently, OU has similar credit ratings to Kent State University, Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. The change would jeopardize the university's current credit ratings.

McDavis and others believe the projects are worth it.

“When I talked to the President and the Provost, they both said they would do this because of the buildings that it touches, the students that it touches, the problems that it solves,” Steven Golding, vice-president of finance and administration said.

Money was the topic of discussion at Thursday’s meeting as the board received a brief overview of the 2014 fiscal year budget.

Consultants said they took a Responsibility Center Management (RCM) approach to the budget, focusing on academic excellence, transparency and “robust shared governance.”

In terms of revenue, officials say the April projection from the Ohio Board of Regents represents a 2 percent growth in state subsidy. Undergraduate rate is expected to grow 1.6 percent and medical tuition growth is anticipated at 5 percent.

There will be a 2 percent salary and wage pool for faculty and staff, and potentially an additional 1 percent mid-year merit increase for faculty, depending on enrollment and retention outcomes.