LIMA — Ohio Northern University President Dan DiBiasio told the Lima Rotary Club on Monday that the university is on the right track and its high standards will not be compromised by cutbacks announced last week.
“Quality matters and cost matters. We are proud of our quality at ONU and there’s plenty of examples to demonstrate our academic excellence,” DiBiasio said. “At the same time, in this post-recession environment, there remains a bundle of financial challenges, that we, and other colleges and universities face, brought on primarily by a series of economic conditions like stagnant family wages, stock market changes, rising healthcare costs and demographic declines that impact enrollment.”
In dealing with a gap between revenue and expenses, DiBiasio said Ohio Northern could have raised tuition, but didn’t. It also could have cut expenses with a uniform percent decrease to all budgets, but didn’t. What it did do is cut expenses strategically through selected and targeted efforts.
That will see the layoffs of four faculty members and 12 staff members and the elimination of 10 academic programs including German, French and a master’s degree in law. Also, 35 vacant positions from retirements will not be filled.
It is all part of the “Foundation For Our Future Project,” which hopes to reduce expenses by $4 million to $8 million. The project has been in the works for the past year and a half and its recommendations were approved by the board of trustees in mid-May.
During his presentation Monday, DiBiasio also noted:
• Ohio Northern’s placement rate stands at 94%.
• He lauded the completion this fall of the 105,000 square foot James Lehr Kennedy Engineering Building. The total cost of the project is $30 million. Of that amount, $16.7 million was raised by ONU. Dedication of the building is slated for October.
• He also discussed ONU’s entry into e-sports.
“We have a coach who’s been very busy recruiting students. We expect a team somewhere between 15 and 20 students. Most of them will probably be Computer Science Majors or Engineering students. Five colleges and universities from our Ohio Athletic Conference will be competing and it is growing rapidly across the country,” said DiBiasio.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.