Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ohio Research Scholars Program Receives Additional Appropriations

On Tuesday, January 29, the House Finance and Appropriation Committee heard sponsor testimony on HB 381, which legislatively authorizes the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) to transfer $72 million from the Economic Growth Challenge, Third Frontier Commission, Eminent Scholars and Action and Investment line items and places it within the newly created Ohio Research Scholars Program (ORSP). Chancellor Eric Fingerhut called for the funds to be transferred a few months ago, but lacked the authority to do so.

The bill also permits nonpublic four-year colleges to submit proposals for the ORSP if the proposal is to be implemented in collaboration with a state college or university. This was Speaker Jon Husted (R – Kettering) and the Chancellor’s intent with the creation of the ORSP, but through drafting errors it was omitted from the budget bill’s language. Independent colleges are currently submitting RFPs for ORSP grants to OBR.

In addition to hearing testimony from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Shawn Webster (R – Hamilton), the committee also heard from Fingerhut, who obviously supports the bill. AICUO supports the bill because it provides independent college research institutions with the opportunity to participate on a coequal basis with public research institutions in a program where the economic benefits to Ohio do not differ if the research occurs at a public or an independent university.

—Dustin A. Holfinger