Ohio University's Baker Center

Ohio University’s Baker Center. Photo by Ben Peters.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees met Thursday and approved a variety of resolutions.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The university is shedding unwanted real estate.

The board approved its next actions in its portfolio reduction strategy by declaring certain real properties as “surplus,” which allows them to be included on a forthcoming Land Conveyance Bill from the state. Although a Land Conveyance Bill authorizes the sale of real property within three years of its passage, it does not mandate sale of the properties. 

The properties were selected based on use, location, alignment with University strategic needs and financial impact, according to the university real estate team.

  • Lasher Hall
  • Central Classroom Building
  • Haning Hall
  • Crewson House
  • 31 S. Court St.
  • Hebbardsville Farm (partial)
  • The Ridges buildings at 130 Circle Drive: 2 (Unit D), 3 (Unit C), 4 (Unit B) and 5 (Unit A). All are currently designated for external use. Buildings 2, 3 and 4 comprise the west wing of the original Kirkbride Plan asylum, built between 1868 and 1873. Building 5 was added to the west wing in 1936. The original buildings and the annex housed women patients.
  • Black Farm Horse Park (Chillicothe Campus)
  • Ohio Horse Park (Southern Campus)
  • Dysart Woods (Eastern Campus)
  • Pickerington Center (Lancaster Campus)
  • Four acres on Lancaster Campus
  • Campus and Community Center (Southern Campus)

The university hopes to find renters for some buildings. In some cases, only portions of the properties identified will be considered for sale; deed restrictions may be placed on some properties to protect them from demolition or other damaging actions. Potential renters or buyers have already approached the university about some properties.

The divestment of the four properties in Uptown Athens could generate approximately $7.15 million in one-time revenues. The divestments would reduce the university’s footprint by a total of 132,042 square feet, reduce deferred maintenance by approximately $7.1 million, and reduce annual operating costs by approximately $453,000.

The university has been in discussion with government and corporate partners about the lease or sale of the Uptown properties, said Joe Trubacz, interim vice president for finance and administration.

2. McCracken is out; Patton is in.

The board approved a resolution to rename the home of the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education from its current name, McCracken Hall, to Gladys W. and David H. Patton Hall.

The Patton College was named in honor of Dr. Violet L. Patton’s philanthropic commitments to the college in 2010, according to a release. Violet Patton committed $13.3 million that year to establish the Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education, and an additional $28 million to honor her parents, Gladys W. and David H. Patton, with the naming of the college.

She committed an additional $22 million in 2019 to support the capital projects for which she has demonstrated unwavering commitment and passion over the past decade.

The current McCracken Hall was approved for renovation in 2015, a project made possible in large part by Violet Patton’s generosity. The building was previously named in 1963 for Dr. Thomas Cook McCracken, former dean of the College of Education and OU’s first provost. Suitable interior space will be identified and named in honor of McCracken at a future date.

3. Southeast Ohio has a voice (but no vote) on the board.

The board amended its bylaws to add a non-voting regional trustee to its membership and appointed Misty Crosby, executive director of Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, to the position.

Ohio University President Hugh Sherman proposed the addition of the seat during the board’s meeting in August.

“Misty Crosby brings the perspective we need to help strengthen the University’s existing Southeast Ohio partnerships,” Sherman said in a statement. “Her connection to the region will help us strategically serve the economic interests of our communities and deliver distinctive academic programming that connects to regional needs.”

Crosby has been executive director of Buckeye Hills Regional Council since 2007. She has been with the organization since 1991, previously serving as assistant executive director from 2004-07 and development director from 2001-04, according to the university’s website. She completed Executive Women in Leadership Certification at Cornell University in 2021, earned a bachelor of science in organizational management at Ohio Valley University in 2004, and an associate of applied business in accounting technology at Washington State Community College in 1997.

“I applaud President Sherman and the Trustees for their commitment to include a representative who can provide a regional viewpoint and for recognizing the value this perspective will add to the University’s leadership,” Crosby said in a statement. “I am looking forward to serving in this newly-created role and helping Ohio University connect its academic programming to the communities of Southeast Ohio.”

Crosby will begin her term as regional trustee on Oct. 8, 2021. The term runs to June 30, 2024. After that date, regional trustees will serve a full three-year term.

4. Say goodbye to Scott Quad.

The discussion also included the demolition of Scott Quad, which was constructed in 1937 and named after the seventh Ohio University president, William Henry Scott. It originally was a men’s dormitory and housed Army training units. Most recently, it housed the Ohio University Police Department (now located at The Ridges) and Ohio University Communications and Marketing.

Scott Quad is currently not used, but the university site itself is considered valuable for the university’s future programmatic needs. The facility was been designated for demolition after a significant review of safety issues, deferred maintenance issues, accessibility and ability to use the space.

Scott Quad currently has $3.4 million in deferred maintenance costs, over $250,000 in operating costs annually and $342,000 in utility costs. The Ohio University real estate team predicts the demolition would save the university $471,000 per year.

5. The university has a new land lab east of Athens.

The board voted to accept the gift of 289 acres of wooded land, known as the Baker Preserve, from the daughters of Ohio University President Emeritus John C. Baker.

The departments of biological sciences, environmental and plant biology, geography and others have identified the property’s “unique characteristics to be suitable to provide students and faculty with field research opportunities,” according to a letter submitted during the meeting. These departments have expressed interest in continued and expanded use of the property for field courses, research, and other educational activities, so far as funding permits.

President Baker purchased the land in the 1950s and inherited by his daughters in 2001. About 269 acres of the property are under a conservation easement with The Athens Conservancy, and the rest will be put under a conservation easement before it is transferred. The Athens Conservancy will continue to manage the property.

The transfer is contingent upon the approval of the Ohio Public Works Commission.

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