DBJ: Wright State names new board chair, avoids state fiscal watch


Sean Fitzpatrick

Wright State University has named the next chairman of its board of trustees.

At the university’s board meeting May 3, it was announced Sean Fitzpatrick will be the university’s next chairman of the board of trustees. Fitzpatrick is the managing director of North American research solutions at LexisNexis. He was appointed to the board by former Ohio Governor John Kasich in 2016.

Fitzpatrick will take over for Douglas Fecher, the current chair of the board, at the start of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2019. Board chairs serve for two years.

Fecher’s board term continues until June 30, 2023.

Fitzpatrick is responsible for U.S. research business at LexisNexis, delivering information resources to legal professionals in law firms, corporate and government. He’s also the site leader for the Dayton facility, which stands as the largest LexisNexis location in the nation.

This announcement follows the recent news of Wright State officially avoiding the state’s fiscal watch, based on U.S. Senate Bill 6’s criteria. The law is designed to increase financial accountability of state colleges and universities by using a set of measures which monitors the fiscal health of campuses, according to The Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Ratio analysis is conducted by analyzing a university or college’s expendable net assets, plant debt, total revenues, total operating expenses, total non-operating expenses and change in total net assets. Three ratios are then calculated, broken into a viability ratio, a primary reserve ratio and a net income ratio.

Having a composite score of or below 1.75 for two consecutive years results into an institution being placed on fiscal watch. In 2017, Wright State received a score of 0.08. That same year, the university had expendable assets of $16.9 million and plant debt of $81.8 million.

Fast forward to this year, and the university received a score of 2.2. Its expendable assets grew to $31.2 million and its plant debt lowered to $75.9 million.

The university’s score of 2.2 validates Wright State has put itself on a much firmer financial footing in a short amount of time, compared to a year or two years ago. But, there’s still work to be done moving forward, according to a university spokesperson.

“We are navigating financial recovery, which takes time,” the spokesperson said. “The university has had to make tough choices, and those are rarely easy choices to make or implement, but the steps taken have clearly altered the university’s financial trajectory.”

Wright State was projecting a $10 million revenue loss and a 32.4 percent enrollment decline for the 2019 fiscal year, according to Dayton Business Journal reporting in June. Revenue from tuition and fees is expected to drop by $8.2 million this year, from $173 million to $164.8 million, and its expected to lose about $1.4 million in appropriations from the state of Ohio next year.

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