The following message was shared with all Ohio State students, faculty and staff on Monday, November 28, 2022.
Dear Buckeye Community,
Since I arrived at The Ohio State University in August of 2020, we have been able to achieve so much on so many different fronts, despite considerable adversity including the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together. It’s been a privilege to serve this incredible university, and I have been honored to work as part of this brilliant, dedicated and passionate community.
I am writing to you to let you know that I have made the difficult decision to step down as president following commencement at the end of the academic year. This will allow a search for the next president to proceed and adequate time for me to assist with a seamless transition.
In my first State of the University address on February 18, 2021, I set out my vision, saying I wanted the university to become the absolute model of a land-grant university for the 21st century — not merely top-ranked, but fully embodying its historical missions of access, equity and outreach in new and creative ways.
This was not a small ambition, especially during a pandemic. Yet, by focusing on five pillars of excellence — academics, research, clinical care and service, talent and culture, and operations — together, we have made amazing headway in just two and a half years. Ohio State is on a pathway to reach ever greater achievements in the years to come, and I’d like to highlight some of the many reasons you should be proud and focused on the future.
In academics, Ohio State rose from 53rd to 49th among national universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and from 17th to 16th among public universities.
Our Scarlet & Gray Advantage program offers our students a pathway to a debt-free undergraduate education, reaffirming the land-grant’s fundamental reason for being to create opportunity for extraordinary people from ordinary backgrounds. All over the world, Buckeye alumni have embraced this endeavor enthusiastically. In just over a year, our Buckeye family contributed close to $125 million in scholarships, far surpassing our initial Scarlet & Gray Advantage target. Thank you for your tremendous support of this important initiative.
We set an ambitious goal of hiring 350 net new tenure-track faculty over the next decade to reduce class sizes and improve the student-to-faculty ratio. We are also adding to our leadership in research and scholarship — including hiring 50 tenure-track faculty through our Race, Inclusion and Social Equity (RAISE) initiative whose research addresses racial and social disparities. Forty-eight of these 50 RAISE positions are already approved.
Academic excellence goes hand in hand with research and scholarly excellence. We restructured the Office of Research at Ohio State and focused on enabling teams of scholars to compete for large research programs that address problems of importance to society. In the last two years, Ohio State has been awarded 10 large-scale, interdisciplinary research centers, including two AI Institutes, one data institute, and an Engineering Research Center in hybrid autonomous manufacturing. Ohio State was also chosen as the research home for Starlab’s terrestrial analog laboratory, setting a platform for Ohio State and central Ohio to grow a space research pipeline and build an ecosystem for commercial space exploration.
Ohio State’s annual research expenditures are growing. In fiscal year 2021 we reported $1.23 billion, crossing the $1 billion threshold for the first time and positioning us among the top of all American universities.
At the same time, the university’s physical infrastructure for innovation has expanded with $3.5 billion in major projects under construction to support teaching, learning, research and patient care. This includes: the newly dedicated Timashev Family Music Building; the Interdisciplinary Research Facility; The James Outpatient Care at Carmenton; the Wexner Medical Center Inpatient Hospital; and the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center, thanks in part to an up-to-$100 million investment by JobsOhio in Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in support of the Carmenton innovation district.
To further encourage innovation within our community, we launched the President's Research Excellence program, awarding 43 teams grants to seed innovative research by convergent faculty-led teams; and for students, we created the President's Buckeye Accelerator and Boost Camp to support founders and their startups.
Ohio State contributed mightily to the state’s bid to attract Intel to Licking County. Intel’s $20 billion investment in two semiconductor factories is expected to create 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 direct jobs, as well as many more jobs at its suppliers. We also recognized that providing the intellectual capital for this effort is bigger than any one university, so we brought together 19 colleges and universities into a Midwest Regional Network focused on fostering the brainpower for the Silicon Heartland.
In terms of talent and culture, we made the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff a priority and established a Commission on Student Mental Health and Well-Being and a Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being. The excellent recommendations of this safety group helped reduce crime in the University District.
In operations, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio State community managed every challenge, protecting public health with no documented in-classroom transmission, while at the same time securing our students’ education and safeguarding finances.
And through the university and its Wexner Medical Center, we administered more than 1 million PCR tests and 200,000 vaccines in academic year 2020-2021. As a result, the university stayed open and awarded more than 12,000 degrees and certificates. We also secured the ability for our student-athletes to return to competition in the fall of 2020, to play for conference and national championships, and to prepare for the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics.
For the 2022 academic year, we raised $600 million dollars in a green bond offering at a favorable interest rate, we exceeded the benchmark for the endowment, and we have benefited from record support from our donors, raising more than $740 million.
I offer my deepest gratitude to every student, faculty member and staff member whose care, professionalism and dedication enabled Ohio State to achieve all these goals and objectives, while keeping our campuses operating and allowing so many Buckeyes to achieve their educational milestones.
These past several years have brought much personal satisfaction as well. Veronica and I quickly felt welcomed as full-fledged members of the campuses and local communities. We want to thank the amazing students, faculty and staff of Ohio State, the alumni, parents, supporters and all of Buckeye Nation, including my cabinet and the Board of Trustees, for the camaraderie you have shown us as we reached new heights together. We wish all of you — and The Ohio State University — the very best in the future.
Kristina M. Johnson, PhD