Sayrs et all

From left to right, Jennifer Murphy, Assistant Dean, Career and Student Success Center, College of Business; Elizabeth Sayrs, Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Success and Dean of University College; and Robin Oliver, Vice President for University Communications and Marketing.

Ohio University on Monday announced the rollout of an ambitious expansion of its “Ohio Guarantee” guaranteed tuition system, called Ohio Guarantee+.

In January 2015, OU was the first public university in the state to implement a tuition guarantee, which locks in the rate of tuition and fees that new students pay for their next four years of college. Now, OU is again the first in the state to implement an expanded guarantee program, according to OU officials who spoke during a press briefing Monday in Baker Center. 

Below is a quick breakdown of how the new system will work. It’s being rolled out in phases, with the first phase for new undergraduate students who have chosen to study in one of 17 different academic programs in fall 2020.

• New undergraduate students will work with their advisers to create a kind of “graduation plan,” which will map out the classes and other experiences they want to have during their years studying at OU. This could include more than just what they need to complete their major – for example, internships, study-abroad opportunities, work toward getting a certificate or additional minor/major, etc. 

• The university will work with the student to provide additional advising and career-planning resources to achieve those goals so that they graduate on-time (whether that be four, five or even three years).

• If OU doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain with regard to this plan (which can be changed as the student progresses through college), it’s committed to “making it right,” the university explained in a press release issued Monday. For example, this could mean the university would pay for the final class a student might need to take to graduate if the course were full in that student’s final semester.

• Finally, the university in the press release said that students and alumni can access certain lifelong benefits such as “alumni career services already offered to ensure career and leadership coaching and access to our Bobcat Mentor Network for life, as well as expanded alumni-only scholarships for Bobcats who wish to return to continue their education.”

OU University College Dean Elizabeth Sayrs, senior vice provost for undergraduate education and student success, said during the press conference that this is a way for the university to increase transparency for new students and their parents, which OU hopes will attract more students.

We want our students to graduate on time and on plan,” she explained.

Jennifer Murphy, assistant dean of the Career and Student Success Center at the College of Business, said the Guarantee+ system is built partly from what that college is already doing after a redesign of its curriculum to include career management classes and other such services.

Sayrs explained that OU’s current adviser system – with both faculty and non-faculty advisers – will stay in place, though she said those staffers will have access to existing resources supported by OU’s “career and experiential learning fee” that was implemented several years ago (it’s a $6 fee per credit hour for each student that is expected to generate $3.475 million in the next fiscal year).

Of the first 17 programs that will have the Guarantee+ system implemented in the first year (fall 2020), 11 of them are in the College of Business, including accounting, business analytics and marketing. However, several other programs also will be included, including music education, psychology, communication studies and exercise physiology. Undecided majors in the College of Arts and Sciences also will be included.

Asked about how the Guarantee+ system might impact OU’s budget, Sayrs said many of the resources utilized by the program are already in place.

Robin Oliver, the university’s VP for communications and marketing, said in an email Tuesday that “no new-dollar operational investments are planned” for implementation of the first phase of the program.

“As we work to expand this program across the university, we may identify gaps, and we will be leveraging revenue generated through the Career and Experiential Learning Fee to fill gaps as needed,” she explained. “In addition, we know from success in the College of Business that this program has the potential to generate revenue through increased enrollment and, in particular, student retention.”

Oliver and Sayrs both reiterated during the media session that they believe the program will help the university attract new students.

In terms of promoting the Guarantee+ program, OU has invested about $28,000 in broadcast marketing, including a spot during the broadcast of Monday night’s college football championship game between LSU and Clemson. That will dovetail with an additional eight-week marketing campaign that the university had already budgeted for, Oliver said.

The Guarantee+ system will be rolled out to all of OU’s Athens campus academic programs over the next three years, with “phase 2” coming in fall 2021 and “phase 3” in fall 2022.

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