Best of 2017: The 10 biggest stories from area colleges this year

  • Max Filby
  • Staff Writer
9:26 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017 News
Wright State, UD, Sinclair and several other colleges made a lot of news in 2017.

Several Dayton area colleges made a lot of news in 2017.

From budget problems at Wright State University to a multi-million dollar arena upgrade at the University of Dayton, higher education grabbed some big headlines.

Here are the year’s top 10 stories from the area that were the most read, most commented on and most impactful.

Wright State University’s board of trustees approved more than $30.8 million in budget cuts Thursday even as top administrators and trustees panned the proposed reductions.

The school will lay off around 57 employees as part of an overall elimination of 189 positions, which will save the university more than $13.9 million. WSU will save another $8 million from operational changes, $6 million from last year’s voluntary retirement incentive plan and $2 million through additional attrition, according to the school.

Ty Greenlees
New center scoreboard has eight panels and a bottom ribbon as part of phase one renovation. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

University of Dayton Arena will undergo a $72 million renovation ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2019, the largest project in UD’s 167-year history and one officials said will cement the venue as the epicenter of college basketball.

Every one of the arena’s guests — and those watching season and championship games on television — will see a change in their experience with the replacement of all 13,450 seats, installation of air conditioning and new WiFi, a sweeping 360-degree main concourse around the bowl and dramatic seating section and broadcast booth changes.

On a shelf to the right of Cheryl Schrader’s desk at Wright State University sits a piece of Native American artwork depicting a “warrior woman.”

It’s a fitting metaphor for Schrader — Wright State’s first female president — who starts her job as the university faces battles on multiple fronts, both financial and legal ones.

Darin Pope
At a kickoff event in April, Wright State University President David Hopkins told Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce members that hosting the first presidential debate in September is an opportunity for Dayton to tell its story to the world. DARIN POPE/STAFF

A former Wright State University consultant claims in a $1 million lawsuit that the Commission on Presidential Debates pulled the first 2016 debate from the university because of the school’s “incompetence.”

The lawsuit filed by John McCance in Greene County Common Pleas Court contradicts President David Hopkins announcement on July 19 that the university chose to withdraw from the Sept. 26 debate because of rising costs.

Local college students remain mostly white and financially well-off despite a push by universities to attract a more diverse student body.

Even as the University of Dayton welcomed its most diverse class in history in August, minorities and students from low-income households remain under-represented there and at most other area colleges, according to National Center for Education Statistics data analyzed by this newspaper.

Staff Writer
Wright State University’s board of trustees approved more than $30.8 million in budget cuts in June after debating cuts at a board meeting for several hours. The cuts were an attempt to correct years of overspending at the school.

From 2012 through 2015, Wright State University administrators presented budget documents to trustees that projected a blossoming financial future.

At least three times in the fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, the university’s chief finance officer referred to the school’s finances as “strong.”

But a Dayton Daily News examination of financial data from the university found that it was losing millions of dollars a year even while pitching rosy forecasts to board members.

Freshman Erica Buschick was excited to return to Miami University following a long winter break at her Chicago-area home and decided to socialize with friends over drinks.

Buschick and her roommate began drinking at about 10 p.m. on Jan. 19, consuming approximately two bottles of champagne between them, a Miami police report says. They then filled a water bottle about halfway with vodka and went to an off-campus apartment to drink more.

Staff Writer
Miami University suspended the Sigma Nu fraternity in May 2015, citing hazing and unregistered, alcohol-fueled parties. The fraternity was already on probation for previous violations. It will be suspended until May 2018 but can submit a proposal to reopen as early as next year. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Out-of-control behavior — sometimes leading to death — has led universities across the country to take dramatic action against fraternities.

Four deaths and several cases of misconduct this year have prompted the suspension of Greek life programs at seven U.S. colleges, including Ohio State University. The lewd or dangerous behavior by students is not new, but universities are quicker today to take sweeping action against fraternities.

Ohio’s community colleges will be able to offer four-year degrees thanks to a provision in the state budget bill that Gov. John Kasich signed Friday into law.

Sinclair Community College has been out front on the issue and officials there have already targeted multiple fields of study for four-year degree offerings. Clark State Community College also has expressed interest in offering them.

Staff Writer
Former Wright State President David Hopkins.

The latest casualty of Wright State University’s financial problems is its own president as David Hopkins resigned Friday, three and a half months before he planned to retire.

An ongoing budget crisis and transitioning in the next president were two of the reasons Hopkins abruptly resigned Friday, he said in an email to faculty staff and students.

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