President's report to the Board of Trustees

The following remarks were delivered during the public session of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

 

Thank you, Chairman Hiro Fujita! It’s an honor to join you as we mark your first meeting as chair.

As I’ve said previously, I look forward to working with you, Vice Chair Abigail Wexner and all the trustees to continue uplifting and enhancing the valuable work of our fellow Buckeyes.

I am also excited to join Trustee and Mrs. Heminger, Chancellor of Higher Education Randy Gardner, and many of you this evening to celebrate the opening of the Jane E. Heminger Hall.

The facility will expand our College of Nursing and serve as a phenomenal new gateway to our health sciences campus. It joins other new spaces opening across our university this summer and fall, including Outpatient Care Dublin, which opened earlier this month, and the new Timashev Family Music Building, which will begin hosting classes and performances with the new semester. All of these facilities enhance Ohio State’s operational excellence and improve our ability to educate, innovate and serve.

Over the summer, I had the great privilege of helping award 1,805 diplomas and certificates to our new graduates at commencement and joined Pelotonia as an honorary captain of Team Buckeye.

I know all of you share our deep sadness following the death of medical student Mason Fisher during Ride Weekend. Mason was generously participating to help others, and his example will inspire all of us to continue riding and working to end cancer.

This same Buckeye spirit also sustains our enduring bonds with those we serve across Ohio.

The university’s State Tour returned to the road in June after a two-year hiatus to visit partners across the Miami Valley.

Along with Brutus, the spirit squad and students on the Buckeye Bus, we visited Huffman Prairie Flying Field — the Wright brothers’ testing grounds as they perfected their airplane design. We also connected with research partners at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; welcomed future Ohio State students at Bellbrook High School; and formalized an educational agreement with Wilberforce University to create new opportunities for its students in turfgrass management.

I’d like to show a brief video.

Thank you to everyone who made that trip a success.

Looking ahead to fall, students have already begun to fill our campuses in anticipation of the new semester. Welcome Week festivities officially kick off tomorrow, and we’ll hold convocation Monday in the Schottenstein Center.

This incoming class of first-year students appears to be among the most diverse and academically talented we’ve ever enrolled on our Columbus campus. More than 70% graduated in the top 10% of their high school classes, and they hail from all 88 Ohio counties, at least 45 states and 44 countries.

They will have the opportunity to see their first Ohio State football game in the ‘Shoe as we celebrate its 100th anniversary — and they will surely add to the greatness for which this landmark is known in their own unique ways.

Buckeyes are excited to be back together, doing our important work and enjoying our incredible traditions. And as each of us begins adding to our Ohio State experience, we remain dedicated to enhancing our caring community through our focus on talent and cultural excellence.

We will be launching a new educational program on drug, tobacco and alcohol misuse prevention required for all new and transfer undergraduates, and available to all other students. There will be complementary modules available for faculty and staff.

We’re deeply grateful to Head Football Coach Ryan Day and his wife, Nina, for their $1 million gift to support the resilience of our fellow Buckeyes and neighbors in the community. Their generosity further dispels the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment, amplifies our growing focus on building resilience, and enhances our ability to equip those seeking tools to better face and recover from adversity.

We continue to build on our comprehensive approach to campus-area safety, and we remain in close collaboration with local and state public-health partners to ensure students and employees have the tools and information they need to protect themselves and each other.

We’ve been working throughout the summer toward our goal of becoming a carbon-neutral university — a challenging yet necessary endeavor that we, and all institutions, must undertake. This will be a significant focus of mine throughout the coming academic year, and I look forward to sharing more soon.

Our academic excellence also continues to grow as we strive to recruit top-notch faculty and create new educational pathways.

Eight current and incoming assistant professors have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Early Scholars Program, and 25 faculty lines have been approved as part of our Race, Inclusion and Social Equity – or RAISE – initiative.

We will have more to share about additional RAISE positions in the near future.

With the start of fall semester, the university will roll out our new General Education, or “gen-ed,” curriculum — the first major Ohio State curricular overhaul in 30 years. In 1990, the first gen-ed program was developed as a menu-driven set of common courses that students could choose from in a few areas of scholarship.

This new program is an integrated, broad-based curriculum that has foundational courses; themes in certain areas of scholarship, including a common theme in citizenship — recognizing our motto “Education for Citizenship;” bookend seminars that highlight the new gen ed in the first year and then in the senior year; a seminar to help students put together the e-portfolio, and a link to advanced courses in a student’s major; and incorporates service learning, study abroad and research such as that explored through our STEP program.

The new gen ed will reduce the number of required gen-ed credit hours and improve flexibility in scheduling while better preparing Buckeyes for the world in which they will live and work after graduation. Our gratitude goes to former Provost Bruce McPheron, Vice Provost Randy Smith and all those who contributed to this effort over the past five years.

Last week, I joined leaders from our medical enterprise and Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima to announce a new community-medicine track in our College of Medicine to help meet a growing shortage of primary-care physicians in rural areas of our state.

Students will spend their first two years of medical school on our Columbus campus, then finish their core clinical training with Mercy Health — gaining experience in primary-care settings and working with communities to improve health at scale.

While our students look ahead to new opportunities, our scholars are hard at work advancing Ohio State’s research excellence.

We are proud to be selected by the National Science Foundation to lead the new engineering research center, Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing, Moving from Evolution to Revolution, or HAMMER.

Under the leadership of center director Professor Glenn Daehn, HAMMER will combine the expertise of four Ohio State colleges and partners across the country — including Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and more than 70 industry, educational and technical collaborators. Together, we aim to accelerate convergent scholarship at the nexus of automation, artificial intelligence and materials science to spark an advanced-manufacturing revolution, and build the diverse workforce pipeline needed to sustain it.

The NSF will provide up to $52 million over 10 years, one of the most significant research investments in our university. We are grateful to Executive Vice President of our Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Dr. Grace Wang, College of Engineering Dean Dr. Ayanna Howard and many others for their tremendous effort securing this award.

We were also pleased to announce the formation of the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics. The network grew out of a two-day workshop hosted at Ohio State in April. Along with 11 other colleges and universities across Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, we will work collaboratively to support Intel’s historic investment in the region and U.S. leadership in semiconductors and microelectronics more broadly.

These efforts received a significant boost from the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. I was honored to attend the signing ceremony at the White House, along with partners from central Ohio, members of the state’s congressional delegation and industry leaders.

We are fully prepared to leverage these opportunities and those on the horizon, such as even closer collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles thanks to the coming expansion of the Big Ten Conference.

Buckeyes are proud of our commitment to Ohio. And we are as determined as ever to find new ways to enhance our service and clinical excellence and deliver on our founding land-grant mission.

We were pleased to host dozens of teachers from the Columbus City School District in June as part of our STEAMM Rising initiative with the district, the City of Columbus, and Columbus State Community College. These are the first of the 500 STEAMM educators we will develop and train over the next five years as part of the program.

We also hosted the first meeting of the Ohio Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership — a collaboration between the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, BroadbandOhio, higher education and industry to grow the talent necessary to support the deployment of the transformational technologies at scale in the state.

And, speaking of transformational, we are excited to launch the pilot of our Scarlet & Gray Advantage program this fall. It’s the first step toward achieving our ultimate goal of graduating thousands of undergraduates each year free of student-loan debt.

As our outpatient presence grows to deliver world-class care closer to home, the Wexner Medical Center was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the “best hospitals” in the country for the 30th-consecutive year.

The phenomenal achievements of our medical center, as well as its outstanding trajectory into the future, would not be possible without the guidance of Interim Co-Leader and Chief Financial Officer Mark Larmore. His long-delayed retirement will take effect on August 31. We congratulate Mark on this well-deserved milestone and thank him for his incredible service. Chief Operating Officer Jay Anderson will soon step into the role of interim co-leader alongside Dr. Andy Thomas, and we look forward to working with them both to sustain our medical enterprise’s exceptional growth.

We also serve Ohioans through our many artistic endeavors. I encourage everyone to take advantage of what is now free gallery admission to the Wexner Center for the Arts, made possible through a partnership with the American Electric Power foundation and others.

Generosity like this fueled a record-breaking Fiscal Year 22. The university recorded $743.2 million in new fundraising activity, including cash receipts of $510 million — both historic highs that surpassed our goals for these categories by $94 million and $60 million, respectively.

In broader terms, the university ended the fiscal year in good shape financially. Revenues compared to Fiscal Year 21 were up $600 million thanks to more normal operations as we continue to emerge from the pandemic. Our Long-Term Investment Pool outperformed its benchmark by 6.5%, which equates to an additional $455 million in value creation. And we far exceeded our $90-million efficiency goal to achieve $264.9 million in savings across the enterprise.

As always, Buckeyes lead in all that they do, and it’s my privilege to recognize just a few of them today:

  • Dr. James l. Moore III was recently appointed as assistant director of the NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. We share our congratulations as well as our gratitude that he’ll remain on the faculty as he takes on this new role.
  • We also congratulate Director of Track and Field Karen Dennis on her retirement. After 20 seasons with the Buckeyes, and 45 as a collegiate coach, she leaves a truly unmatched legacy in her wake.
  • Professor Jill Clark, from our Glenn College, was recognized by the Engagement Scholarship Consortium with the 2022 Faculty Community Engagement Award.
  • Ohio State’s latest Tillman Scholar is Ms. Brandi Wooten, a doctoral student in material sciences and former member of the National Guard who deployed to Afghanistan.
  • And, our TacoBot team of six graduate students in engineering, computer science and computational linguistics won third place in the international Alexa TaskBot Challenge — the only U.S. team to place among the top-three performers.

I’d like to acknowledge the Office of Marketing and Communications efforts this past year to amplify our storytelling on behalf of our academic excellence, research advancements and community engagement — and for creating this great content that I’ve shared with you today.

In closing, I’d like to share a snapshot of our university’s incredible engagement in the 2022 Ohio State Fair. It’s an outstanding example how deeply involved we are statewide.

There were 78 different university-related connections across the fair, led primarily by the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Seven other Ohio State units also participated for the first time this year — including Athletics, the College of Dentistry, Student Life, and the medical center. Dean Cathann Kress’ charity steer show raised more than $240,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.

These are incredible numbers, yet the energy of those 12 days is best captured by this short video:

This university makes an extraordinary impact at places like the State Fair and in people’s lives all over Ohio. That’s possible because of the friendship of our many partners; the hard work of our students, faculty and staff; and your leadership.

Thank you so much. And, as always…Go Buckeyes!