BGSU Trustees approve $18 million a/c project for Kohl, McDonald

Two residence halls on the Bowling Green State University campus will receive air conditioning, while the College of Education and Human Development will undergo reconfiguration.

Action was taken Friday at the BGSU Trustees’ meeting.

The board approved a plan to add air conditioning to student rooms and common spaces in Kohl and McDonald residence halls at a cost of $18 million.

“Most of our residence halls have air conditioning, but there are three in total that do not, and they tend to be the older residence halls,” said BGSU President Rodney Rogers. “We have certainly done upgrades to those residence halls over the years, but we had not taken the step up to putting air conditioning in those three older residence halls.”

Work in McDonald is set to begin at the end of the spring semester, while work in Kohl is to begin at the end of the spring 2024 semester. All work is to be completed by summer 2025.

Upgrades will be done in phases to minimize student disruption and the university’s residence hall capacity will not be affected during the work.

Only Kreischer Quadrangle will remain without air conditioning. The future of Kreischer is to be determined as part of the Campus Master Plan 2.0.

“We’ve tried to be very, very responsive to what students are telling us they want, in terms of a residential experience like Bowling Green. We’ve been fortunate to be able to stay with the curve. With Master Plan 2.0 we will be look toward what our needs are,” Rogers said.

He called enrollment “robust,” resulting in a “need for good quality housing stock, but at the same time making sure we have the right number of beds, that it’s located in the right location and that it’s designed the right way. So we will probably be looking at other types of housing opportunities. Kreischer probably, which is one of our older res halls, probably isn’t going to be, long term, something we would invest additional resources in.”

He said that removal of the residence hall is being considered.

Rogers did point out that Kreischer’s location, next to the recreation center and in the arts district, is an important consideration.

The reconfiguration of the College of Education and Human Development will save an estimated $377,000 as it makes the transition from five schools and one department to three schools overall, without any loss of faculty or staff.

“Most of the savings will come from moving faculty administrators back into faculty lines, which means that we won’t need to hire some of the people that are retiring,” Dawn Shinew, dean of EDHD, said. “As someone retires, that means a faculty administrator will move back into a full-time teaching position in that unit.”

The reconfiguration is expected to create new opportunities for innovative collaboration, improved communication and increased efficiencies for students, faculty and staff with no program elimination.

“Our college is holding pretty steady in its enrollment, but as I look around, all of our majors probably need to take a fresh look, and it’s sometimes difficult to look at your program in new ways when you are having conversations with the same people you’ve been talking to for the last 20 years. So a lot of this is about getting new perspective,” Shinew said of the change.

The reconfiguration will begin during spring semester and will be completed during the 2023-24 academic year.

The savings are expected to be used for enhancement of the student experience.

“With programming we are always looking for opportunities to support bringing speakers in, doing activities with students, anything that can help students develop a connection with a sense of belonging, so we will have more resources to dedicate to those types of activities,” Shinew said.

In his president’s report, Rogers praised Shinew and the college for hosting the Northwest Ohio Teacher Shortage Summit.

“Almost every day I’m getting calls from superintendents looking for teachers, particularly in intervention services,” Shinew said. “I think it’s an issue we should be paying attention to across the state. I think we assume everyday when we drop our children off at bus stops and schools that there’s going to be a qualified and licensed teacher in the classroom, and that’s just not true in some parts of the state, already.”

She said that a lot of teachers have left the field due to COVID stresses.

”I think that if we can ever come together in our community we ought to be able to do that around our kids,” Shinew said. “I do think some teachers feel as if school board meetings, curriculum and some things teachers do in the student’s best interest have become more contentious and controversial.”

Trustees also approved a low-enrollment course and program and duplicate programs report.

The report was based on an analysis of 54 low-enrolled undergraduate, 20 master and 4 Ph.D. programs.

Recommendations ranged from not making changes to closing the programs, with creative solutions that might involve merging programs. Some programs had already suspended admissions and the closure would be a formality.

Several programs, like the Bachelor of Arts program in Popular Culture, may be merged, after additional analysis to identify program options. One suggestion has been the creation of a new major in Critical Cultural Studies with specialization tracks. A similar solution is being considered for some of the less popular languages like Latin and Russian.

Provost Joe Whitehead said it will take time, as the recommended changes go through the proper governance committees.

“If the faculty in the unit make a recommendation, along with the chair and the dean, I’m pretty sure in most cases that it will be approved,” Whitehead said.

He estimated nine months to a year for the changes to take effect.