Trustees approve new degree, move to attract transfer students

The board of trustees on Feb. 22 dealt with a broad array of academic and other issues.

To help meet the growing demand for geospatial professionals, the trustees approved a new master's degree program in applied geospatial sciences, which will be offered through the School of Earth, Environment and Society. The program will focus on using geospatial tools to solve problems in the natural and social sciences, with a particular focus on energy.

The program will be unique in the state because of its integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing with natural and social science applications. It is a joint effort between the departments of geography, geology, and environment and sustainability.

Graduates will be equipped with a strong skill set that is highly marketable across disciplines from civil engineering to environmental management to geologic mapping.

"It's very important to us that our programs remain current with the needs of society and that we're giving our students the best preparation possible," said board chair Debra Ryan.

The trustees also approved a big step toward improving BGSU's Aviation Studies Program. The board authorized the president and the vice president for finance and administration to sign an agreement with North Star Aviation. In a public/private partnership, BGSU will partner with the company to build and maintain an aviation training facility, which North Star will own. The University will retain ownership of the land.

North Star will then provide the flight-training component of the aviation program. Both BGSU and North Star agreed that the current facility, the Technology Annex on Poe Road, is a hindrance to attracting and retaining students and not a good candidate for renovation. The project is expected to start later this spring and be completed by late this year.

In other action, the trustees revised the on-campus residency requirement in order to attract more transfer students. Under the new policy, students who have been out of high school for more than two years, former military members and others with certain situations will be exempt from the residency requirement.

The board also granted the president the authority to commercialize a patent for 3-D ceramic printing developed at BGSU by John Balistreri, School of Art, and other employees. The proceeds from any licensure, sale or other disposition of the patent will benefit the University.

In other business, with the departure of the Student Health Service to the new Falcon Health Center, the College of Health and Human Services can be renovated to better meet programming needs for the building's occupants. The board approved the next steps in the project, which includes bringing mechanical and electrical systems up to date along with providing enhanced instructional, research and clinical space.

Along with programs in criminal justice, communication sciences and disorders, nursing and gerontology, the building will house the Food and Nutrition Program and will serve as the future home of Forensics and Laboratory Sciences, in conjunction with the construction of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Information facility on campus.

Construction costs for the renovation are estimated at $7.1 million, plus about $3.8 million for such things as furniture, fixtures, equipment and professional fees. A construction contingency of $555,000 is also built into the total $12.2 million project cost.

Construction is expected to begin by the end of April.

The project will be paid for with $9.2 million in state basic renovation funds and $3 million in proceeds from 2010 bond funds.

The trustees also authorized the University to issue short- and long-term bond debt for about $40 million to fund the next phases of a number of capital projects currently underway or about to begin. Funds for the debt repayment will come from student general fees and the University's unrestricted operating budget.

One of those buildings set for major renovation is Moseley Hall, which will become the center of STEM education for the next generation of BGSU students. The Master Plan Executive Team has devised a design concept laying out the desired facilities. The board gave its approval for an architectural and engineering team to be hired to proceed with the final design for the facility, at an estimated cost of $1.6 million.

The total cost of the eventual renovation is projected at $23.2 million, to be funded primarily from state capital appropriations.

The project is slated for completion by fall semester 2016.