BGSU board adopts budget, approves gerontology social work master’s

The BGSU Board of Trustees at its June 23 meeting set educational and general operating budgets for Fiscal Year 2017. The budget includes compensation increase pools for faculty and staff.

“Our University has shown significant improvement financially,” said President Mary Ellen Mazey. “Our focus on attracting strong students, providing them a world-class education and helping them to continue through to graduation, plus implementing strategies for efficiency and effectiveness in our campus operations, have resulted in an improved financial position.”

The combined revenues from all University budgets for FY 2017 is expected to reach $415.3 million, with planned expenditures from all funds of $411.5 million. That total brings BGSU back to its 2012 level, as it has responded to Ohio’s new higher education funding formula and other economic impacts.

BGSU’s combined campus budget reflected some good news from the state, notably an estimated $75.1 million in State Share of Instruction (SSI) for fiscal year 2017. While still far below the $95 million in SSI it received in 2010, it is a step up from FY 2016’s $71.1 million. Several factors contribute to the rise, according to CFO Sheri Stoll. The state provided an increase of 4 percent in FY 2017 SSI appropriations, and BGSU’s performance has continued to improve in student enrollment, retention and graduation rates, all of which have contributed significantly to its more favorable state funding.

This will be the third straight fall with no increase to in-state undergraduate tuition or general fees. In FY 2015, BGSU froze tuition over growing concern for student debt levels, and the state followed suit for the FY 2016-17 biennium, implementing a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition and general fees. Some undergraduate students will pay additional special fees beginning this fall. At its May meeting, the BGSU board approved a limited number of special fees to fund high-impact practices and career-preparatory experiences primarily for upper division courses in certain higher-cost programs.

The budget passed by the board also includes compensation increase pools for faculty and staff. The collective bargaining agreement the University signed this spring with its faculty union calls for a 3 percent pool for faculty, allocated at 1 percent across the board, 1 percent for merit and 1 percent for market adjustments. Additional funds were approved for promotion and tenure raises and market adjustments. A 2.5 percent pool was provided for eligible classified and administrative staff.

Following a performance review, the board granted President Mary Ellen Mazey the same 2.5 percent raise available to classified and administration staff, effective Sept. 1. The trustees also approved a contribution of 15 percent of the president’s salary to her deferred compensation account as called for in her contract. In addition, citing the increase in enrollment and progress in meeting the goals set out in BGSU’s strategic plan, they approved an additional 10 percent contribution based on her performance.

In other action, the trustees approved the Efficiency Review and Implementation Plan as mandated by the state. In early 2015 Gov. John Kasich created a task force to recommend efficiency and academic practices to improve the quality of higher education in Ohio and reduce its overall costs to students. House Bill 64 required each Ohio public university to complete an efficiency review and submit findings and plans to the chancellor of higher education. BGSU looked at everything from health care costs to energy efficiency and classroom utilization to textbook costs and time-to-degree for students as part of its review and development of an implementation plan for submission to the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Also approved by the board was the biyearly College Completion Plan Update, which sets goals and strategies for helping students stay enrolled and successfully graduate. This includes shaping both the undergraduate experience and the makeup of the undergraduate class, along with removing barriers to persistence.

BGSU will now offer a master of social work, becoming one of the few MSW programs in the United States with a focus on gerontology. The degree program approved by the board addresses the growing U.S. population of people over 60 and the particular demands of social work with older adults, their families and communities. It will prepare graduates to work in a variety of settings.

The program complements the University’s new Optimal Aging Institute and is aligned with BGSU’s designated Center of Excellence in Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan.

With a curriculum drawn from both the social work and gerontology programs, the new master’s program is aimed at working professionals in the field and recent graduates who wish to expand their skills. About a third of the coursework may be completed online, making it more convenient for those in the work force to participate.