Presidential search continues for Board of Trustees

The Lantern
Trustee member John Zeiger listens at a Board of Trustees Finance Committee meeting in Pomerene Hall on Aug. 30, 2018. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Lantern File Photo

The Board of Trustees met over the course of three days to discuss matters ranging from the pros and cons of ChatGPT to Title IX updates and how the university plans to implement changes that adhere to the new requirements.

Meetings began with a full-board executive session on Tuesday unavailable to the media and ended with a full-board public session on Thursday where the board confirmed the university is currently being led by the president’s cabinet and their presidential search is progressing in an efficient and timely fashion.

Wexner Medical Center board

John J. Warner, CEO of the Wexner Medical Center and executive vice president of the university was introduced to the board by Leslie Wexner in the opening minutes of the meeting.

Updates on the new James Outpatient Care West Campus facility and Carmenton District were then provided by David Cohn, the interim CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

The Wexner Center Medical Board then reviewed its financial report and forecasted results for the 2023 fiscal year.

In the closing minutes of the meeting, the board approved the Wexner Medical Center’s fiscal year 2024 budget.

Talent, Compensation and Governance Committee

Within the Talent, Compensation and Governance meeting, the board made numerous decisions during the public session including a report on departing trustees and election officers and reappointing Hiroyuki Fujita as board chair for another one-year term. In addition to discussions regarding appointments, the board approved February 2023 committee meeting minutes, appointment extensions and the personal actions and motions Katie Hall , interim senior vice president of talent, culture and human resources , shared by voice vote.

Legal, Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee

Cathy Baumann, audit partner at KPMG, presented the fiscal 2023 single-audit plan, which consisted of the identification and selection of five major programs, including provider relief funding in response to the pandemic, agriculture funding and the Early Head Start Program, which provides education to children from birth to 4 years of age who live in poverty stricken homes according to the website .

Dave Gagnon, KPMG national industry leader, said there has been much more interim testing happening this year. The industry update consisted of discussing arising cyber security/privacy matters, the increase in higher education price index and the increase in internal audit focus areas and education audit committee members. Scoot Hainer, director of public records, said there has been an increase of 90 percent in public records requests from 2014 to 2022, while stating the university has released a total of 629,000 pages of records in 2022 and over 700,000 pages thus far in 2023. The number of public records requests is projected to increase.

Jessica Tobias, director and compliance investigator, said the committee combined their processes to more efficiently review outside activity forms in the approval and disclosure process. The committee made revisions to Faculty Rule 3335-13-07 by adding provisions more reflective of Ohio law and rules for Ohio universities, expanding the definition of the university technology commercialization company, increasing the possible exceptions of certain provisions within Ohio Ethics Law and clarifying participants’ responsibilities to the university.

Amy Golian, senior assistant vice president and senior associate general counsel, and Keesha Mitchell, associate vice president for the Office of Institutional Equity , then presented updates regarding Title IX that were established in June 2022 by the Biden Administration. These changes mostly impact athletics, as they provide a framework to eliminate discriminatory eligibility requirements based on gender identity, along with instating increased report requirements and less strict complaint requirements. If restrictions on gender identity are present within a school, they must pass a two-part test: the restriction must be substantially related to important educational interests and must minimize the harm to the excluded students. The finalized updates will come into effect during the 2023-24 academic year, and institutions are expected to have a 60-day time frame to implement these requirements. Golian said the university is fully prepared to implement the final version of these updates in the coming academic year.

Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee

Karen Rose was appointed as the new dean of the School of Nursing, and Deana Kroetz was named the new dean of the College of Pharmacy. The committee discussed numerous programs dedicated to offering support and resources to students such as Buckeyes First, the joining of Stars Network and Scarlet & Gray Advantage. After noticing a trend in a lack of research experience among undergraduate students at Ohio State, the committee created the Undergraduate Research Access Innovation Seed Grant Program that awards students $250,000 annually to expand research opportunities.

Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering, said ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence tool that is designed to study the way in which individuals interact with one another to better understand how humans communicate. Such tools were only limited to researchers until new innovations made them available to the public. Howard said that ChatGPT has its pros and cons, like everything. ChatGPT can be used as a learning tool or a provider of job opportunities but it does not have all of the answers and can produce wrong information as well. Howard said that artificial intelligence does not know everything, and to not assume that it is always right.

Finance and Investment Committee

For the 2024 fiscal year plan, an interim budget was approved by the board, delegating $4.4 billion to university revenue, $4.3 billion to medical center revenue, $4.3 billion to university expenses and $4 billion to medical center expenses. The university will experience an increase in research enterprise, tuition fees, auxiliary enterprises and endowment distribution. The 2024 plan will also include 2 percent AMCP salary increases along with a consistent decrease in debt service. There was a decrease in renewed donors, which was a topic of concern Michael Eicher Sr., vice president for advancement, said when reporting on advancement updates. The February 2023 meeting minutes along with the consent agenda were approved following the discussion on advancement.

Full-board Public Session

The Board of Trustees announced the arrival of two new trustees, George A. Skestos Jr., and Bradley R. Kastan, who will replace Abigail Wexner and Alex Fischer. Along with this, the board expressed their confidence in the ongoing presidential search, stating they have highly qualified candidates and are making progress in a timely manner. The board reaffirmed the president’s cabinet will continue to act as a governing body leading the university, stating this is in line with what was done during the last presidential search. The board also confirmed the adoption of the campus free speech policy.

“We are pleased to report that great progress has been made,” John Zeiger, Board of Trustees member, said. “There is strong interest by highly qualified candidates and the process is moving forward efficiently and timely. We are very thankful for the engagement of students, faculty and staff throughout this process and we encourage all of you to keep providing input, comments, nominations online so that we have a maximum pool to evaluate for this extremely important decision.”

Kate Shields contributed to reporting

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