Trustees approve forensic center, next step of Greek housing construction

BOWLING GREEN, O.—At the May 9 meeting of the BGSU Board of Trustees, the board formally voted to name Dr. Ronald Scherer, communication sciences and disorders, a Distinguished Research Professor. His upcoming conferral of the distinction was celebrated at the Faculty Excellence Awards.

Also approved was the Ohio Center for Forensic Science, which will complement BGSU’s partnership with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Information (BCI) that was formed in May 2013.  The $11.9 million, state-of-the-art crime lab is under construction on campus. It will expand the capabilities of the current office while offering BGSU students learning opportunities in the forensic sciences. The departments of chemistry, biology and criminal justice have added tracks in forensics to their degree programs and a new master’s degree in forensic science is being developed.

Located on campus, the interdisciplinary center is to be funded through the Ohio Attorney General’s office and the BCI and administered by BGSU’s Office of Research and Economic Development. Its purpose is to serve the needs of the professional forensic community, foster innovative forensic science research, and create training opportunities for forensic professionals.

“The eventual goal is to be a leader in forensic science nationally,” said Dr. Steven Lab, criminal justice and chair of the human services department. The center will be staffed by a director and resident expert, he added.

The board’s resolution authorizes the president to work with academic affairs and faculty governance to create the center.

“The creation of the center provides another significant opportunity for BGSU to serve the state while expanding opportunities for our students to attain valuable career skills,” said board chair Debra Ryan of Wadsworth.

As required by the state, BGSU has developed a strategic completion plan, designed to increase the number of degrees and certificates BGSU offers to students. The board gave its approval to the plan, which includes expanding the number of bachelor’s degrees earned at BGSU Firelands; developing three-year undergraduate programs for students who have earned 30 college credits while in high school; offering increased academic support; making academic advising mandatory; implementing the linked courses for freshmen; reviewing academic policies; and leveraging technology to support degree attainment.

BGSU is taking the next step toward replacing its aged and outmoded Greek housing, following the board’s approval of funding to engage a “criteria” architect to design the facilities and a design/build team.

Approved was $681,000 for the architecture firm plus $1.3 million for design/build pre-construction services. The selection process for both teams has been completed.

The total project estimate is $30 million, and features a townhouse-style development off Wooster Street on the site of the current Greek locations (the “horseshoe” and Conklin units). The area will include about 400 fraternity and sorority beds in four-, 12- and 18-bed units, plus landscaping and public areas.

Temporary housing locations have been determined and coordinated by Residence Life staff, who are working with the chapters to vacate all houses by June 1. Demolition work will proceed later this summer. The board will consider related aspects of the project at its June 19 meeting.

The first phase of the Greek housing project, a study and evaluation, began in October 2010. Phase 2, the planning process, commenced in June 2011 with the board’s approval and included more information-gathering, cost estimates, consensus building and location studies. The completed plan replaces all current fraternity and sorority housing with units appropriately sized for each chapter and designed and constructed with rent ranges and fees consistent with BGSU’s newest student housing.

Also at the meeting, the trustees took up the matter of administrative fee revisions. Historically the University has been loath to increase student fees, but declining state support and available financial resources, coupled with the increasing need and demand for certain services, have forced it to reconsider all fees and services.

Tuition, general fees and room and board rates will remain the same for next year. After consideration, the board approved some special fee increases, some fee eliminations and other changes for fall semester 2014.

A new Career Development Fee for all undergraduates was instituted for fiscal year 2015 based on credit hours. It will provide enhancements to career counseling and support the University’s effort to guarantee an internship or co-op for all new undergraduates starting their studies this coming fall semester.

There will now be a fee for all students, graduate and undergraduate, to help support continually increasing usage of Counseling Center services.

A graduate service fee of $16 per credit hour was added, along with an increase to the fees for learning communities such as the French House and Chapman Community. Fees for special courses such as voice and music lessons were raised.

In other business, the board granted approval of an easement to Erie County on BGSU Firelands property for the installation of a new water line and water booster pump station near the corner of Rye Beach Road and Boos Road.

The water service upgrades planned by the county will benefit Firelands by eliminating the need for a separate fire pump as part of the addition to the North Building for the Allied Health and Sciences project.

Also at the meeting, the trustees voted to name trustee Fran Voll of Marion the next chair.

The former Falcon basketball coach, associate athletic director and head of the Falcon Club said, “I welcome the opportunity to continue my service to my alma mater and look forward to working with the board to move the University forward.”

Last, the trustees changed the date of their June meeting to June 19.