WILBERFORCE — Central State University’s finances are no longer under increased scrutiny by the state.
Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education John Carey announced April 27 that the university has been removed from fiscal watch after exceeding benchmarks set by the state.
CSU was placed on fiscal watch April 21, 2015, after an audit by the state showed the university’s financial scores dipped below an allowable number for two consecutive years. However, the last two years the university’s reserves grew and CSU surpassed required financial accountability standards one year earlier than required by law.
“It’s a lot easier to get on fiscal watch than it is to get off,” said CSU Board of Trustees Chair Mark Hatcher. “The board of trustees here at Central State University is very proud to be here today.”
Carey officially signed the paperwork clearing CSU April 5, according to university officials and praised the university for its work.
“We knew we had to make some very difficult decisions,” Carey said. “We are pleased with the dedication and effort put forth by Central State University to address its financial situation and get on the path to fiscal recovery. The release of Central State from fiscal watch status is the result of diligence and hard work. We look forward to seeing the university continue on this path.”
The term “fiscal watch” was created by the State of Ohio under Senate Bill 6 in the 1990s in response to financial issues that impact higher education institutions.
There are three variables that constitute SB-6 ratio: Ready reserve, net income and variability. The composite score of the three variables ranges from 0-5. If a university ratio falls below 1.75 for two consecutive years, it is placed on fiscal watch. A university is eligible to come off fiscal watch after achieving a score of 2.4 or above, according to the ODHE website.
CSU scored a 2.8 in 2016 after scoring 2.3 in 2015, according to ODHE reports. CSU’s scores in 2013 (1.3) and 2014 (1.0) led to the fiscal watch status. It had scored 3.6 in 2012.
“This is very important for the university,” said university President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond. “It was an opportunity for us to regroup, rethink, restrategize, and reposition ourselves for a better future. We’re looking differently at how this institution operates. We have a great foundation for the future.”
In the last two years, CSU has: Implemented a targeted student enrollment initiative to recruit and retain more state, regional and international students; secured external partners in planning and operations to maximize university business operations; worked with various State of Ohio departments, which provided essential services at low to no cost; and limited most spending to initiatives that support the university’s strategic priorities.
“This was not something that was done in isolation,” Jackson-Hammond said. “We had many town hall meetings … trying to be as transparent as we can. We did not miss a beat with our academic programs.”
Had CSU not met benchmarks by the deadline, Carey said the governor could have made changes to the board and/or administration. But he said that has never happened.
Owens State Community College was also on fiscal watch but has been removed as well.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.