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Ohio U to freeze tuition

Ohio University will not be raising undergraduate tuition rates next school year.

That decision was made at a recent meeting of the OU Board of Trustees who voted to freeze tuition, room and board fees for fiscal year 2021 at their current levels. The board cited the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on families as the reason.

The board also approved a new policy to provide in-state tuition rates to graduate students who earned their bachelor’s degrees from an Ohio institution of higher education. This policy was requested by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Higher Education to enhance the likelihood that students will continue their education in Ohio. The policy will now be sent to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for approval.

The trustees also approved a resolution that authorizes the president of OUS, now and in the future, to oversee and direct all steps necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the campus community when faced with a national, state or local state of emergency declaration, in consultation to the extent practicable with leadership of the trustees and the university.

The resolution also ratified and affirmed all lawful decisions made by the president related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the cessation of in-person instruction, extension of spring break, closure of campus buildings, prorated refunding of student housing and meals, the direction to employees to work from home and other substantially-related orders in furtherance of the health, safety and welfare of the campus community since the state of emergency declaration issued by Gov. DeWine on March 9, 2020.

A decision by the trustees to not ratify a tentative three-year agreement between the university and the union that works on campus has sent both sides back to the negotiating table.

The board said it did not ratify the tentative agreement between OU and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8, Local 1699, for the period of March 1, 2020, to March 1, 2023. The union represents skilled trade, maintenance and food service employees. The agreement outlines the wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment for these employees.

The two parties previously approved a collective bargaining agreement for March 1, 2017, to March 1, 2020, and representatives of Ohio University and the union finalized a tentative agreement in early March 2020.

The trustees said that the COVID-19 pandemic has since created unforeseen business circumstances that significantly altered the financial condition of Ohio University.

Because the Board did not ratify the tentative agreement, the two parties will resume negotiations and continue bargaining in good faith the terms and conditions of the subsequent collective bargaining agreement.

On May 1, 140 union employees’ positions were cut at OU. None of those positions were at the Ironton or Proctorville campuses.

OU is facing budget issues after refunding $18 million to students who couldn’t return to campus because of the pandemic and losses in revenue from study abroad programming fees, summer camps and athletics.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the trustees met online in accordance with Ohio House Bill 197.