Dear Ohio State Mansfield Colleagues,
Our first Autumn Semester is now fully underway, and we have witnessed few if any issues and concerns arising that were not anticipated with regard to our conversion from the quarter system. On the Columbus campus, a great deal of gratitude has been expressed for the work that Randy Smith and Steve Fink oversaw in making the semester conversion happen in this near seamless fashion. Likewise, more locally I would like to express thanks and appreciation to Associate Dean Dave Tovey for his diligence, perseverance, and leadership in creating the same success story on the Ohio State Mansfield campus. As well, please know that I feel an indebtedness to all of the staff and faculty members who have helped to make this conversion work so smoothly.
With this successful transition now underway, a great deal of our attention during the course of the present academic year must be directed toward an assessment of how well the Ohio State Mansfield campus is operating under our Campus Implementation Plan1 (CIP), which as you know is meant to be a reflection of our position within the Regional Campus Cluster Strategic Plan2. In fact, my biweekly reports will become a primary communication tool regarding the progress our campus is making within the four primary domains of the CIP – teaching and learning, research and innovation, outreach and engagement, and resource stewardship – with particular attention given to the tactics and key milestones that we have set for ourselves.
At this time there are of course many questions and concerns about our current budget situation. Importantly, many of these issues can be addressed through an examination of the main section of our resource stewardship CIP component that centers on improving the sustainability of financial and physical resources.
There are three main tactics within this area, including:
• 4.1.A: Develop processes to align resources with RCC strategies
• 4.1.B: Pursue alternative sources of revenue
• 4.1.C: Work with co-located colleges to gain efficiences
The drill down tactics within 4.1.A involve a number of efforts that speak directly to actions my office is now taking in order to deal with the current budget situation, including most importantly the planning, approval, and review of the budget process itself. Most simply put, we have to live within our present means. Working together with Senior Fiscal Officer Carol Freytag, our 2012-2013 budget was based on enrollment figures of 1,295 students that would translate into 1,191 FTE units. That said, we also built this budget with the knowledge that we would have to “find” by fiscal year’s end approximately $200K in savings against the line items that we included in that budget, as well as handling the decline in revenue from our summer figures (we were down 42% in enrollment against an anticipated drop of 25%, creating a 17% additional deficit in summer revenue).
Our 15th day enrollment figures indicate that we are now close enough to our original projections to state that the present situation means no additional cuts beyond what is stated above will need to be made at this time. We can and should breathe a collective sigh of relief, at least for the time being. As you might expect, we will be monitoring the Spring Semester enrollment numbers quite closely. In the meantime, however, we must still deal with the current $200K deficit. My office is looking to adopt a two-prong strategy to close this fiscal gap. The first part of the strategy will involve the Budget and Compensation (B&C) Committee, whose members were called together today in order to begin the process of examining additional cuts to existing lines. Carol Freytag will join me with this group as we comb through the general revenue budget in search of further cost savings in the days and weeks ahead.
The second part of the strategy involves the Program Coordinators, who have been asked to explore the current structure of our course offerings in order to determine if we are offering more courses than are warranted in our current situation. This latter strategy will be informed by course offering statistics from the past three academic years that recently were compiled for comparison purposes. During the 2009-2010 academic year, we offered 634 sections of classes for 1,647 enrolled students. This past year, despite having dropped to 1,388 students (a 16% enrollment decline), we offered almost exactly the same amount (636) of class sections. Suffice it to say that it would be reasonable to expect some falloff in course offerings this year, as our further enrollment drop this year brings the decline to 22% in comparison to three years ago. In the spirit of such an assumption, Dave Tovey will be joining me with this group as we create a set of metrics for decision-making purposes regarding course cancellation in the upcoming Spring Semester. I will also be asking for the Program Coordinators to help make decisions about how and when to incorporate the suggestions made by Jack Miner (Assistant to the Registrar on the Columbus campus) regarding our re-racking of course offerings next year and beyond.
Beyond the management of our current budget, the CIP calls for a number of additional activities to be undertaken this year under the heading of developing processes to align resources with the RCC’s strategies. We will be examining the Market Analysis Survey in order to determine possible new programs to be offered that can attract significant numbers of additional students to our campus, which of course would include the planning for new faculty lines. Currently, the Tripp/Umbach group (our marketing survey consultants) estimates that we will receive that report in early fall. At the same time, we will continue to monitor the credit hours generated by existing programs in order to keep our focus on the cost-benefit ratio of those majors. This is a task that will be shared by both the B&C Committee and the Program Coordinators. We have restructured our non-traditional student scholarships and we have reallocated the ACCESS Challenge dollars to our general revenue budget, although the current budget situation has delayed our use of that support for the hiring of a retention officer and new faculty for the time being.
The upkeep and expansion of our buildings also will take a front-and-center place in our sights this year. Thanks to capital appropriation funds from the state, we will be putting a new roof on Eisenhower Hall, as well as sinking an additional $600K in renovations to the building. We hope to enlist the help and resources of OSU Food and Dining Services on this project, which could literally double the amount of financial support for this renovation effort. And of course we will be moving forward with the renovation of Bromfield Hall to include an Information Commons, launched through the use of $1M from our strategic cash reserves in combination with a scheduled $2M in contributions through our capital campaign effort.
Our strategic cash reserves also are scheduled for use in a number of additional areas, including support for additional research efforts on our campus, family engagement strategies in the community, distance learning, and deferred maintenance. We have seen an explosion of new activity on the research front as Assistant Dean Terri Fisher has shown significant early leadership in this area of campus life. On that note, in partnership with the OSU Office of Research our campus will be hosting the first ever Research Retreat for Regional Campus faculty members on October 12th, which is expected to bring a host of personnel from the Office of Sponsored Programs to our campus for a day of technical assistance and consultation, as well as providing opportunities for faculty members to explore potential collaborative activities. And our initial family engagement strategies also are blasting off in wonderful and creative directions now that Renee Thompson is on board with us. All of the early reports coming in from school personnel and community members are focused on the great energy and enthusiasm that Renee is bringing to her new role.
The use of strategic cash reserves to generate new opportunities within the realm of distance learning is being led by Susan Delagrange. In her new role as the Interim Director of Instructional Technology on our campus, Susan already has issued the call for proposals from faculty members regarding the development of new distance learning courses, and shortly will be announcing the first recipients of those awards. This effort actually falls under a separate heading – pursuit of alternative sources of revenue – as does the use of strategic cash reserves to fund deferred maintenance projects. This latter issue typically is best addressed as part of an organization’s ongoing efforts to set aside a certain portion of revenue for such projects; however, the lack of such budgeting in previous years has compelled our campus to be in a more reactive mode with regard to long overdue maintenance of our existing infrastructure. Hopefully, in better economic times our campus will begin a new and virtuous habit: that is, setting aside a portion of our earnings in a more proactive fashion to take care of the continuous wear and tear on our facilities.
Discussion of our pursuing alternative revenue sources would be incomplete without notation of our ongoing capital campaign efforts. As noted above, a portion of these activities surround funding of the Bromfield Information Commons project. At $2M, this represents two-thirds of our total Gateway campaign. The other one-third is a mixture of two additional funding priority areas: scholarships ($500K) and paid business internships ($500K). Regarding scholarships, we have seen 100% participation by our current Ohio State Mansfield Board members regarding the merit-based Trustees Scholarship, and past Board member Dr. Don DeCenso is leading the charge to have our Board Alumni Group reach a similar objective. Two other funds are being created for additional scholarships to be awarded to students who enroll at Ohio State Mansfield: the Tyger Scholarship for Mansfield High School graduating seniors, and a second fund for North Central State College students who wish to complete their degree work with us. The paid business internship program will create an endowment that will support the development of essential occupational skills and experiences for our students as they participate in placements with local business and industry employers. Our current use money for this effort already exists due to a generous contribution from Huntington Bank, which will allow us to launch the first paid interns into the community as early as the next academic year while we build the endowment.
I would be remiss if I did not take the time to thank our campus community faculty and staff for having given generously to the campus campaign this past spring. In case you have not been paying attention to the regular emails coming from Development Officer Nick Orosan, our overall campus participation rate was 86%, or over double what we normally report in a typical campus campaign. I cannot begin to tell you how gratifying it is to go into the community with that sort of backing by the campus family! Because of this increased pattern of giving, the message I can transmit is crystal clear: we have given to a campaign that we believe in… and now we believe it is time for the community to do the same.
Last but not least within this update on resource stewardship efforts is the final tactical area concerning work with our co-located college to gain efficiencies. As you know, we have been exploring numerous opportunities to expand our shared service efforts over the last year. The appointment of Betty Wells Preston as part of our Advancement Team during the Capital Campaign is only the latest example of how we are trying to take advantage of the natural and overlapping skill sets of our co-located colleagues. Although I am personally quite crestfallen to realize that we will be losing President Don Plotts at the helm of NCSC, I am invested in making certain that our collaborative endeavors continue to evolve in a positive direction. To that end, I have been invited to be part of the search committee that will seek to find Don’s replacement, which will afford me with the opportunity to remind the committee that we need his successor to be a willing and able partner in the process of bringing our institutions into even more cost-saving collaborative activities.
In closing, please know of my gratitude for all of the support that each and every campus community member is giving these resource stewardship efforts. More updates on other CIP activities will be forthcoming in future biweekly reports. In the meantime, go Ohio State Mansfield and GO BUCKS!