Les Wexner is back.
The Ohio State Board of Trustees committees met Thursday to discuss several university matters, including Wexner’s return to university affairs as Wexner Medical Center Board chairman, support for legislation giving student trustees full voting rights, the university’s fundraising campaign progress and establishing a new university affiliate in partial partnership with University of Michigan.
The Board will meet Friday to take a final vote on approving all measures.
Wexner, CEO of Limited Brands, whose appointment to the Medical Center Board was announced at the Governance committee meeting, previously served as chairman and a member of the Board of Trustees before resigning without providing a reason in June 2012.
Wexner had been on the Board since 1988 until his resignation in 2012. Two months after accepting his chairman term that would have ended in 2020, Wexner mysteriously resigned, according to The Lantern archives.
Wexner’s new term on the Medical Center Board would take effect Friday and end May 13, 2016.
Other University Wexner Medical Center Board members are Stephen Steinour, CEO of Huntington Bancshares, Inc., and John Wolfe, CEO of The Dispatch Printing Company.
The Governance committee also voted in favor Thursday of presenting to the full Board Friday the possibility of supporting state legislation that would allow voting and participation privileges to student trustees.
Student trustees make up two of the 18 Board members but do not have full Board member rights, such as voting. Ohio House Bill 111 is the state legislature that would grant student trustees that right.
“What we have here is a resolution in support of the legislation, but … should the resolution pass, our Board of Trustees will indeed grant full voting rights and participation,” said Herb Asher, OSU’s senior vice president for Government Affairs and counselor to the president, when presenting the topic.
Benjamin Reinke, a third-year graduate student in nuclear engineering and graduate student trustee, also commented on the issue.
“As a student trustee, I know from my perspective, it’s much easier to do our jobs to fulfill our roles when trust is placed in us from the Board members,” Reinke said. “We all take our jobs seriously and it’s a lot easier when (we’re) able to join executive session as well as make a formal vote, at least in committees.”
Reinke called this legislation a “truly important step.”
The undergraduate student trustee is Stacie Seger, a third-year in agricultural communication.
Central to the Board of Trustees Advancement committee meeting Thursday was the development of the OSU advancement scorecard, a point of contention on some fronts.
“We recognize(d) from the start that we would have a bit of a journey here and that we would be willing to modify and make changes as we got more learning in this area,” said G. Gilbert Cloyd, charter trustee.
A mobile technology to bring alumni communities together and receive feedback on the university and how its being run is currently in the pipeline, said Michael Eicher, senior vice president for advancement.
“We think we’re doing things that probably no one else, no other university, is thinking about,” Eicher said.
A timeline is in the works for this system, but the team working on it is expected to have a rough outline by the next Board meeting, which is scheduled for the end of January, Eicher said.
The media portion of the scorecard received the most discussion.
“The outcome we’re measuring with this is really the reach, the saturation of positive stories about Ohio State in places that matter to us,” said Melinda Church, OSU vice president of university relations, referencing The New York Times, National Public Radio and other national news outlets.
The scorecard focuses specifically on the prominence of the papers in which OSU is mentioned, the exclusivity of the mention and the placement of the article in the paper.
Some Board members said technology could be used more efficiently to track the attitudes of the public about OSU.
“There’s nothing on that list that we couldn’t do a decade ago, in terms of technology, in terms of audiences,” said committee member Keith D. Monda. “So are we missing the young piece of it?”
Younger generations communicate much differently than those who came before them, a fact that needs to be taken into account, Monda said.
The committee also announced its fundraising campaign progress has reached nearly $1.7 billion since Jan. 1, 2009, about $80 million more than its target through Sept. 30 of this year.
Audit and Compliance committee
The Board of Trustees voted at its Audit and Compliance committee to potentially approve a new university affiliate, the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a nonprofit that aims to “ensure world leadership of innovative metal production to government and commercial applications.”
OSU is competing against the South Carolina Research Association and a consortium built around the NASA facilities in order to be chosen for the U.S. Navy procurement, said Marty Kress, assistant vice president in the Office of Research.
OSU is set to partner with the Edison Welding Institute and the University of Michigan to establish the nonprofit, which will receive $70 million from the U.S. Navy to pursue its objectives of furthering materials and manufacturing research.
The advantage of OSU being a founding member of the project has a few benefits, Kress said.
“One is to be on the board, to serve as an officer and help shape and frame the projects and activities,” Kress said. “It also helps in that branding issue in that you would be recognized as an innovator … Our hope is that we are going to get some more sponsored research out of this.”
The risks associated with OSU becoming a member of ALMMII are “damage to its reputation if the ALMMII team is not successful in creating and sustaining a viable, value added, national manufacturing center” and the possible loss of federal government funding for the partnership in the future, according to the meeting agenda.
Kress said OSU plans to mitigate the possible loss of funding by not making capital investments until it sees a certain time window pass.
If OSU is chosen for the contract, it will be able to deem the project a success five years down the road if certain conditions are met, Kress said.
“The first thing is that we would have pushed out some major new products and development,” Kress said. “The first customer is the U.S. Navy, and that would mean some of the new generation vessels would incorporate the materials and technology that we have. I think the other element of success is that we create tools and tool kits that really facilitate these things in the future.”
The final decision on which entity is granted the contract will be made by the end of December, Kress said.