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McDavis visits Ironton, speaks of campus upgrades

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- The "Ohio guarantee," a proposal that would keep tuition the same for four years or 12 semesters for incoming freshmen, could be in place at Ohio University next year, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said Thursday.

McDavis was touring the university's six regional campuses and stopped by Ironton on Thursday to talk about a wide variety of topics. Among them was the $1.6 million for the Southern campus and Proctorville Center could be in line for in the upcoming two-year state budget currently being discussed in Columbus. The money would be used for campus-wide energy efficiency improvements, fire alarm system improvements and parking lot upgrades at both Ironton and Proctorville.

The university currently has a record 38,297 students, including 23,000 at the main campus in Athens, 5,000 online students and 10,000 at the six regional campuses. There currently are 2,100 students at the Southern campus and the Proctorville Center. Ohio University also has 1,600 international students, including 600 from China.

"The 10,000 students at the regional campuses are a critical part of who we are," McDavis said.

Having a fixed tuition for incoming freshmen that would be in place for up to four years or 12 semesters would make costs transparent for students and their families, McDavis said.

"The board has approved it, but it's not fixed yet. We hope to have it approved by spring so we can market it."

Currently, tuition costs can increase each year, but the Ohio guarantee would set a fixed cost for each new incoming freshman class, he said. The program could be in place by the fall of 2015, he said.

The university currently is looking at setting one fee for in-state and out-of-state freshmen students at the main campus, McDavis said. "We're looking at expanding it to the regional campuses and graduate programs," he said.

McDavis credits the university's increased profile in both football and basketball toward the 19 percent increase in the enrollment. "The 4,200 incoming freshman class was both the most diverse and the most talented," he said.

Ohio University has a $1.5 billion impact on Ohio's economy with the 14,300 people it employs, he said. The impact of the Southern campus is estimated at $33 million, McDavis said.

McDavis said he's also working to get more professors at the main campus to spend more time and hold classes at the regional campuses.

The university currently is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise money for endowed scholarships, endowed professorships and facility improvement, including $75 million for the neediest students, McDavis said. "Our No. 1 goal is to raise money for scholarships," he said.

Meanwhile, the search for a new dean for the Southern campus could be completed by June 1 or no later than July 1. The search has narrowed down to five candidates who will visit the Ironton and Athens campuses in the coming weeks. Bill Willan, former Southern campus dean, took the position as executive dean for regional higher education for Ohio University last year.

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