Board Votes To Demolish President Street Building, Raise Fees

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The Ohio University Board of Trustees voted to raze a hundred-year-old building and raise tuition for the newest Ohio Guarantee students in their January meeting.

Despite a resolution passed by the Athens City Council this week asking the board to postpone demolition of the historic building, the board unanimously decided it was better for academic growth at the university to see the building go.

In a Resource Committee meeting on Thursday, members of the board said they were not taking the city’s request lightly, but that the building just didn’t have what the university needed to teach students in the 21st Century.

Those opinions were echoed by board member Janetta King as she relayed a report of the committee at Friday’s full board meeting.

“With everything that we heard, we support the recommendation (to demolish),” King said.

The building will be razed to create green space until fundraising and plan can be finalized to decide what type of building the College of Business needs to expand.

PSAC, which was constructed in 1911 and was renovated in 1947, has not been used for Ohio University classes since 2003. Officials say the low-bearing wall is in poor condition with safety risks. Significant investments would be required to bring the building to a safe, usable condition. It currently costs $15,000/month to maintain the building.

University President Roderick McDavis said the decision to knock down the building came when the college itself said they needed more space, but didn’t see the need met with the President Street facility.

“…This came at the recommendation of the dean of the faculty,” McDavis said. “They deemed it as not useable.”

During discussions at the committee meeting yesterday, officials said the college would like to use the space for more state of the art classrooms, similar to the College of Communication’s Schoonover Center. Large spaces would be used for collaboration and project activities.

“Our mission is students first, not buildings first,” said Board Chairperson Sandra Anderson.

Along with deciding to get rid of PSAC, the board approved tuition, room and board increases for the Class of 2020, which will be the second cohort of the Ohio Guarantee.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Stephen Golding presented a plan at the Joint Academic and Resources Committee on Thursday that included “moderate rate increases,” starting in fiscal year 2017.

Under current planning assumptions, tuition for Ohio Guarantee students in the class of 2020 will increase 1.7 percent, or $196 per year for a full-time student, according to documents presented by Golding. The “non-resident surcharge” also increased to 5.6 percent, or $500 annually.

WOUB’s Kaitlyn Roman contributed to this article.