Last updated: February 24. 2014 8:40AM - 643 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

Ohio Northern University | Submitted photoA student in the Ohio Northern University's Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law listens to a law professor as part of a program to teach lawyers from other countries about democracy.
Ohio Northern University | Submitted photoA student in the Ohio Northern University's Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law listens to a law professor as part of a program to teach lawyers from other countries about democracy.
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ADA — Ohio Northern University is not only making a difference in west central Ohio, the 342-acre residential campus is making a difference in the world.

ONU President Daniel DiBiasio says he is excited about many things happening at Ohio Northern University, from policy to programs, from sports to structures. These benefits all start with the “Ohio Northern Promise.”

“Our new initiative is that we are now focused on affordable excellence,” DiBiasio said. “We have reset our tuition, knocking off about 20 to 25 percent, and a commitment to a four-year graduation guarantee. We have made a commitment to expand opportunities for students in high-impact learning practices, and we are going to continue to help students achieve what the university has, which is a pretty impressive placement rate which averages above 90 percent for the last several years.”

The tuition change started in the fall. For example, students enrolled in the college of arts and science or business paid $36,470 a year in tuition. With the planned reduction, tuition would be set at $27,500, a difference of $8,970 per student.

Under the “Four-Year Graduation Guarantee,” students enrolled in a four-year degree program who maintain high academic standards will receive an additional semester at no cost, should those students be unable to complete their degree in four years due to other circumstances.

DiBiasio, who oversaw the addition of four undergraduate programs when he was president of Wilmington College before becoming Ohio Northern’s 11th president, talked about a new master’s program for accounting with two tracks. There is a forensic tract, which is primarily an online program. There is a separate tract in taxation, which is done in collaboration with the university’s law school.

Next year, the school is scheduled to offer a degree in risk management and insurance. There are only a half-dozen schools in Ohio which offer the program, and Ohio Northern is currently registering students for the program.

“We also will be looking to implement recommendations from a new study in the health sciences,” DiBiasio said. “We do not have any specifics on the coursework, but there were some good recommendations there, but that will be a focus of our efforts next year.”

Ohio Northern University is set to undergo reaccreditation review as a university this year, and the College of Engineering will be up for its professional accreditation. Both should be completed in the fall. He also hopes to have a new dean for the College of Pharmacy in place by the fall.

As far as bricks and mortar, Dial-Roberson Stadium and a new soccer stadium received upgrades with turf and lighting. Both should be ready for the fall seasons in 2014.

“We are still working on and hoping to finalize plans on a new engineering building,” said DiBiasio, who explained a new purpose would be found for the existing engineering building. “We should finish up this year a comprehensive master plan as part of our strategic plan, which is focused on what we want the campus to look like in 2021, our sesquicentennial year. We are identifying a lot of capital needs and looking at the entire campus comprehensively for what we want to do in regard to a buildings and grounds perspective.”

The Pettit College of Law graduates and programming continues to be a source of pride for DiBiasio and the university. The passage rate on the bar exam is 91 percent, and “we have been among the top 3 in the state for the last number of years,” he said.

“We also have this very unique master’s program called the Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law, where we bring lawyers from all over the world here from countries who are trying to write constitutions and encourage democratic principles in their countries,” DiBiasio said. “We help the lawyers to develop the skills to do that. It is one of the few programs of its kind in the nation.”

The program has graduated 40 people in the last couple of years.

“We make a world of difference here,” DiBiasio said.

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