Dear OWU Colleagues,

As president Matt vandenBerg articulated in an earlier email, the Board of Trustees approved the University's FY24 budget on October 6. To maintain OWU's fiscal health and establish a foundation for growth, it is vital that we live within that budget while fulfilling the University's mission.

Ending our current fiscal year with even a modest budget surplus will leave the University in stronger financial health. It will enhance our bond rating and our ability to borrow by increasing the value of our unrestricted net assets. Having a strong and stable bond rating gives us more flexibility to borrow funds for a variety of worthy initiatives, from replacing HVAC systems to building the library of the future.

To ensure that we meet our financial goals, we are asking all departments to begin immediately implementing the financial stewardship measures listed below. These measures standardize a wide range of past practices, align with best fiscal practices, and help ensure that we do not overspend our budget.

This document is divided into three sections: (1) explanation of sources of funds to use when making purchases, (2) explanation of new protocols regarding personnel, and (3) purchasing practices and procedures.

1. Using the Proper Source of Funds

Many departments and programs have access to sources of funding beyond their operating budget. Employees who have authority to make purchases should follow the order explained below when considering making a purchase. Simply, if an expense could be funded from multiple sources, the most restricted funding source should be used first. This will alleviate pressure on the operating budget.

  • Best Option: Endowment earnings for the current fiscal year. Spending from current year endowment earnings funds in accordance with the donor intent or board designation should be the first choice for funding. Where possible and appropriate, prioritize spending from those funds to support ongoing mission-driven initiatives. (These funds start with a 2 and have a project code that begins with a 6.)
  • Second-best Option: Current-year pass-through gifts with donor restrictions. Donor-restricted funds must be spent in accordance with the donor intent. We should continue to be good stewards with our donor contributions and ensure we are fulfilling the intention of their gift. (These funds start with 2 and have a project code that begins with 3.)
  • Third-best Option: Accumulated balances in endowment earnings or accumulated balances in other restricted funds. Spending from these funds should be limited to essential purchases that cannot be delayed and for which there is no other source. Please consult the budget office or VPFA for assistance with planning for spending from accumulated balances.
  • Last Option: Current-year operating budget (Fund 10). Everyone with purchasing authority must manage their department/program/office/organization within the budget that has been allocated.

2. Protocols for Open Staff Positions and Part-time Staff Hours

Filling Vacant Staff Positions

Effective immediately, all open staff positions that are funded by the operating budget will be reviewed by the Senior Leadership Team before they can be approved for a search to begin. This deliberative process will provide opportunities to reimagine positions to meet changing needs and explore inter-divisional needs.

Part-time Staff Hours

Federal law requires that employers provide retirement benefits to part-time staff who work at least 1,000 hours per year. We are not budgeted to provide such high-cost benefits to staff who are not full-time. Therefore, part-time staff should never work more than 999 hours in any 12-month period. It is vital to monitor the hours worked by part-time employees in your area to ensure that the hours remain within the number budgeted for the position. Budgeted hours for each position were submitted by VPs as part of the FY24 compensation process. It is important that supervisors set schedules for part-time staff that align with the budget. Part-time staff may not work additional hours beyond those scheduled by the supervisor.

Supervisors can use ADP to check the number of hours their part-time employees have worked. After logging in to ADP, go to "My Team," then under "Time & Attendance" select "Totals Summary." Use the dropdown box to select "Range of Dates" and enter the date range you are interested in, then click "find."

3. Purchasing and Related Practices

P-cards

The first option for purchases should be through University catalog vendors found on BishopBuy; the second option is the use of purchase orders issued to non-catalog vendors. In the event a credit card must be used, an OWU P-card must be used. Personal credit cards should never be used for University expenses. Effective February 1, 2024, no reimbursements for purchases made with personal credit cards will be processed. Exceptions may be made in rare circumstances where the P-card was declined or Merchant Category Code was not available.

Tax Exemption

As a tax-exempt institution, Ohio Wesleyan does not pay general sales tax. When using your P-card in stores, use the tax exemption certificate and inform the cashier of our tax-exempt status. When making purchases online, call customer service to avoid sales tax. Employees who repeatedly allow vendors to apply sales tax may lose P-card privileges.

Travel

Airline flights and hotels should be purchased through the Concur system with a University P-card. Note that we are not exempt from hotel room tax, so it is appropriate for room tax to be charged to an OWU P-card.

Timeliness of P-card/Concur Approvals

To allow for more accurate financial expense reporting, it is important to "clear" P-card purchases and perform P-card approvals on a timely basis. All P-card charges must be cleared by the 10th of the month for any incurred expense in the prior month. Approvals must follow within the next 10 days or the report will bounce back to the employee.

Food and Beverages When Not Traveling

University funds cannot be used to pay for meal expenses when employees are not in travel status, except when such expenses are incurred for a bona fide business-related purpose, such as meals with a job candidate, guest speaker, donor, or trustee; situations when OWU is entertaining an external guest; or events for students with approval from the divisional VP. In such cases, restricted funds or budgeted operating funds must be available to cover the expense. When using University funds to pay for meals incurred for a bona fide business-related purpose, a P-card must be used, and a list of names of all meal attendees (OWU employees and guests) must be uploaded to Concur or entered in the comment field when processing the transaction approval.

The use of a P-card to pay for meal expenses that are incurred for reasons other than a bona fide business-related purpose constitutes an unauthorized use of the P-card. If P-cards are mistakenly used for unauthorized purchases, the holder of the P-card must provide reimbursement to the University for the unauthorized purchase within 30 days.

While faculty and staff are encouraged to enjoy a meal together, it is not permissible to use University funds to pay for meals in the absence of a bona fide business-related reason. The University will not reimburse employees who use personal funds to pay for meals or snacks incurred for reasons other than entertaining an external guest for a bona fide business-related purpose.

Exceptions:

  • With approval from a divisional VP, University funds may be used to provide food for business-related meetings composed of only internal personnel and are scheduled during a typical meal period. In such cases, budgeted operating funds or restricted funds must be available to cover the expense, and a P-card must be used.
  • Departments that frequently receive visitors may use University funds to purchase coffee and snacks for guests.

Celebrations

As a reminder, it is unacceptable to use University funds to purchase holiday presents or birthday presents (or similar) for employees.

Computers and Related Equipment

For the remainder of this fiscal year (through June 30), there will be no additional purchases of computers, tablets, and monitors from operating funds. Any exceptions (in cases where equipment has failed and a loaner is not available) must be approved in advance by the appropriate divisional vice president in consultation with Information Services and the Vice President for Finance and Administration. We will move to an annual purchase of computing equipment to maximize our volume discount with our vendors.

Similarly, please limit expenditures on accessories, cables, adapters, etc., unless necessary. Information Systems staff are available for consultation regarding product compatibility. It is recommended that purchase of accessory items be made through a BishopBuy catalog vendor (HP, CDW-G, GovConnection, Adorama, or B&H), as CDW-G frequently offers educational discounts, and our procurement system offers a comprehensive way to record and analyze expenditures. Bishop Buy also offers a streamlined solution by automatically including in the sales tax exemption for our catalog vendors. Only in emergencies should University funds be used to purchase this type of equipment using a P-card from Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or other non-catalog vendors.

Note that funding in object 7855 (at FY23 values) across all ORGs will be moved to Information Systems. IS staff will manage a centrally funded 5-year replacement schedule for computers.

Guest Speakers

Endowed funds exist to support lectures by guest speakers. It is important that only restricted funds be used to pay for stipends, travel costs, and other expenses related to guest speakers.

Printing and Duplicating

We all must use digital media (OWU Daily, thuban distribution lists) for internal communications for which employees are the sole target. Please do not print flyers, postcards, brochures, newsletters, and posters to communicate with faculty and staff. This does not apply for printing material to communicate with students, which is often an effective communication method.

Non-essential Miscellaneous Spending

Consulting services and external studies must be reviewed and approved by the VP for Finance and Administration.

Please remember, avoid spending University funds for non-essential activities and items. Before a purchase, please ask yourself if the expense is essential to the work of your department.

Thank you for observing these prudent fiscal stewardship measures.

Sincerely,

Maura Donahue
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer

Finance & Administration Contact Info

Location

61 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, Ohio 43015
P 740-368-3350