Board approves new undergraduate majors, sets room and meal plan rates

BGSU continues its commitment to delivering additional academic programs in response to high-demand fields, and to providing an educational experience that is both affordable and prepares students for rewarding careers. The board of trustees at its Feb. 19 meeting approved three new undergraduate majors, plus residence hall and meal plan rates for fiscal year 2017.

The new major within the Bachelor of Science degree is forensic science; and the new majors within the Bachelor of Arts degree are biological sciences and in philosophy, politics, economics and law (PPEL).

“These are all exciting new programs that build on the University’s strengths and position our students for not only current but also emerging careers,” said David Levey, chair of the board.

The new major in forensic science builds upon the University’s recent addition of forensic science specializations in three undergraduate degree programs: criminal justice (criminal examination), biological sciences and chemistry. It represents ongoing collaborations between the Colleges of Health and Human Services and Arts & Sciences on forensic science curriculum. The focus is to prepare students to apply scientific principles to forensic evidence.

Common to all will be graduates who have the ability to think critically and analyze complex data for the benefit of the criminal justice system, apply diverse information to solve problems, and utilize laboratory skills to exacting standards to aid in solving crimes.

Further adding to the University’s strength in the area of forensics, the trustees in December 2015 approved a master of science in forensic science, designed primarily for working professionals in the field and again aimed at filling the growing demand for practitioners with the technical and legal skills to work effectively.

BGSU’s forensic programs are also strengthened by an academic partnership with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation laboratory on the University’s campus. It is one of the only partnerships of its kind in the country.

Second, the versatile new PPEL major provides an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum that will prepare students to work in law, medical ethics, philosophy and in international positions.

In addition to the foundational courses, PPEL students will follow one of three tracks: law, ethics and policy, or national and international perspectives.

Modeled on Oxford University’s longstanding program, PPEL teaches students to think critically about the relationships between different social institutions — political, legal, social and economic — and to understand their historical and moral backgrounds. Graduates will be equipped to solve challenges that require a multipronged approach.

The third major approved also expands students’ career possibilities. The new biological sciences major in the bachelor of arts degree will complement the existing bachelor of science in biology but replaces the required advanced mathematics, physics and chemistry requirements with additional courses in social sciences and the arts and humanities.

The major will enable more students with a strong interest in biology to prepare for jobs in the field. Other institutions have already begun offering this option, so credits will transfer for students who wish to transfer to BGSU or to go on to advanced degrees elsewhere, the board heard.

Under the new room and meal rates approved by the board, BGSU will maintain its position as the lowest in overall cost of the “four corner” Ohio public universities, Kent State, Ohio University and Ohio State University.

In setting room rates for the next fiscal year, the board took into account changes to campus student housing such as the new Greek housing that will open fall semester. For several years, Residence Life has utilized a tiered system for room rates that aligns type of room with cost, ranging from Tier 1, with basic rooms in Harshman, Kohl, Kreischer and McDonald halls, to Tier 4 premium rooms in residences such as Centennial Hall and Falcon Heights.

The new formula reduces the tiers to three and includes the new Greek housing at the top tier. Tier 2 includes Conklin, Founders and Offenhauer halls.

Room rates will increase an average of 2.4 percent, the increase for a Tier 1 standard double room. That rate will go from $2,660 in FY 2016 to $2,725 in FY 2017.

Meal plan rates will increase by an average of 2.5 percent, including the Bronze plan, which is the most popular and the one used by the Ohio Board of Regents as a point of comparison. That plan will now cost $1,600 per semester, an average weekly increase of $2.44.

The increase was necessitated by rising labor, benefits and operational costs.

In other business, the trustees voted to award an honorary doctorate of business administration for Maribeth Rahe, a 1970 alumna. Referred to as the first woman to shatter the “glass ceiling,” Rahe has had a distinguished career in financial services and in 1997 was named by Forbes magazine as one of five top woman executives in the Fortune 500. Vanity Fair in 1998 featured her as one of America’s most influential women. She will be presented her honorary degree at May commencement.