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, February 16, 2023.


Thank you very much, Chairman Fujita. And thank you, again, to the Timashev family.

Ratmir’s journey epitomizes the American dream — something Ohio State is committed to making a reality for so many people.

Before I begin my formal report, I’d like to reaffirm that Ohio State joins our Big Ten community and so many others in grieving for the lives lost at Michigan State University on Monday. Just as we are here to support our friends in East Lansing in the wake of this senseless act of violence, we are here to support each other. Every Buckeye should know that they can reach out for help and that we are here for one another.

Students who seek assistance or emotional support should reach out to the Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service. Faculty or staff can contact the university’s Employee Assistance Program.

The world can be a challenging place, yet Buckeyes are as determined as ever to make it better, and to help Ohio State take its rightful place among the best universities in the world. To grow our impact, we are privileged to welcome some wonderful new leaders to our ranks.

Starting with Dr. John J. Warner, who will join us on April 1 as the chief executive officer of the Wexner Medical Center and executive vice president of Ohio State.

He most recently served as CEO of the University of Texas Southwestern Health System and executive vice president for health affairs. His experience as a health care executive, interventional cardiologist and public health advocate makes him a perfect fit for the medical center. And a warm welcome to his wife, Mrs. Lisa Warner, as well.

We extend our deep thanks to Dr. Andrew Thomas, Mr. Jay Anderson, Dr. Carol Bradford, and the entire Wexner Medical Center leadership team for their strong work and for their collaboration throughout this transition period.

We are also delighted to welcome Mr. Anthony Padgett, who will soon join us at WOSU as general manager. He currently serves as president and CEO of South Carolina ETV, and his first day will be March 6. 

Five days before that, on March 1, Vice President for Research Dr. Peter Mohler will transition into the role of interim executive vice president of our Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge.

He and Vice President for Knowledge Enterprise Dr. Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska have been instrumental to achieving our tremendous progress toward doubling research expenditures in this decade. We’re excited for this work to continue as Dr. Grace Wang prepares to become the next president of Worchester Polytechnic Institute next month.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Grace Wang on this appointment and to thank her for her excellent leadership at Ohio State. Grace and I worked together at the State University of New York, and we were so fortunate to recruit her to Ohio State. Grace – you are visionary, strategic, collaborative and a very hard-working colleague and partner. WPI is so fortunate to have you as their next leader. Thank you.

As you know, The Ohio State University has five strategic priorities. I’m going to give you a quick update on each of those and try not to repeat some of the great work that was already talked about in committee meetings. But some of them, in my opinion, require extra emphasis.

As we know, our research enterprise has an incredible amount of momentum behind it.  In December, Ohio State leaped 12 spots in the National Science Foundation’s annual Higher Education Research and Development rankings, going from 24th to 12th among all American universities, public and private.

That increase was driven by our record $1.236 billion in research expenditures for fiscal year 2021. And, as Dr. Mohler shared just a short time ago, we are proud to have surpassed that mark in fiscal year 2022 to achieve an astounding $1.38 billion in R&D spending.

This represents 11.7% growth over the previous fiscal year. It’s a credit to the collective achievements of our faculty and scholars, who strive every day to create new knowledge and develop solutions people need now.

Sustaining this growth requires a pipeline to support research teams as they pursue high-risk, high-reward projects at the convergence of disciplines.

We’ve established that pipeline through the President’s Research Excellence Fund — and better positioned these teams of faculty to come together to garner extramural support.

Since the program began, 43 teams of Ohio State researchers have been awarded $3.3 million to pursue their cross-disciplinary research. I am eager to learn what the next round of funding will be, which will be announced in March.

We’re achieving excellence in research. And, of course, we aspire to continue to be excellent in academics. The quality of our academics also continues to garner national attention. On the heels of Ohio State’s rise last year to 16th on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of public universities, the organization has again recognized us as one of the best in the nation for online education.

The College of Nursing’s online graduate program is tied for the second spot this year. Online programs from the colleges of Business, Dentistry, Education and Human Ecology, Engineering and Medicine also garnered special recognition.

Whether students are online or on campus, Ohio State is committed to promoting a safe and healthy environment, free from hazing.

When the university’s new anti-hazing policy became effective last month, we took an important step forward in meeting this responsibility to the Buckeye family and our obligations under Collin’s Law, Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act.

For the first time, it brings students, faculty, staff and volunteers under one comprehensive set of rules prohibiting the hazing of students. As part of this policy, all university students and employees are now required to take part in annual education to help them identify, respond to, prevent and report hazing.

I’d like to thank Associate Dean of Students Ryan Lovell for leading the implementation team and units across our campuses for their collaboration on this important effort.

Excellence in service and clinical care is so important to Buckeye nation. 

We continue to find new ways to enhance how we serve the people of Ohio and deliver compassionate and cutting-edge care to our patients.

We were delighted to learn in January that the Ohio Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership, housed at Ohio State, will receive $12 million in additional grant support through the State of Ohio, the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The funding will accelerate efforts by the Sector Partnership to build a talent pipeline to fuel the deployment of broadband service and 5G across the state.

On January 16, more than 500 students marked the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by participating in a day of service.

This annual event, organized by the Pay It Forward student cohort within the Office of Student Life, saw Buckeyes uplift our neighbors in central Ohio through 29 service projects conducted alongside 27 local nonprofit organizations.

The team at the Wexner Medical Center also continues to define excellence. The nursing staff at The James earned the hospital’s third-consecutive Magnet® designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which recognizes outstanding patient care and high-quality, innovative nursing practice. 

Our thanks go to The James’ Interim CEO Dr. David Cohn; Executive Director for Clinical Services Kris Kipp; Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Corrin Steinhauer; Christine Krall and Emily Rush, who spearheaded the redesignation effort; and to all the nurses at The James.

Excellence in operations fuels the rest of what we’re doing, including excellence in talent and culture.

Operationally, the university continues to be in a strong position to invest in the future.

Ohio State’s issuer default rating and the ratings on our general-receipt bonds have been upgraded by Fitch to AA+ with a stable outlook.

The university also experienced a strong start to the fiscal year, with an increase in operating revenues of $399 million for the first six months of FY23 compared to the same period in FY22.

Thanks to Chief Financial Officer Mike Papadakis and his team for their solid planning and sound management.

Lastly, excellence in talent and culture.

Enhancing our excellence in talent and culture remains a full-time focus for our university community. Buckeyes are going the extra mile during Ohio State’s celebration of #BuckeyeLove, which includes Random Acts of Kindness Week — going on now — and tomorrow’s Random Acts of Kindness Day.

We’ve known for a long time that doing good for others pays dividends to ourselves. Thanks to two Buckeye researchers, we now have peer-reviewed evidence to back this up.

Professor of psychology Dr. Jennifer Cheavens and former Ohio State doctoral student Dr. David Cregg demonstrated that performing acts of kindness for others helped alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression among those doing these good deeds. Their findings are deeply moving — so much so that their work was recently highlighted on the TODAY Show.

Buckeye excellence — this can be found all over our campuses. As reported earlier in the ERIK committee meeting, and important enough to summarize again here, we congratulate the following faculty on their well-deserved national awards:

College of Public Health Dean Amy Fairchild, engineering Professor Antonio Conejo, physics Professor Mohit Randeria and psychology Professor Laura Wagner were elected to the 2022 class of Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The distinction recognizes their singular efforts to advance the study and application of science and is among the highest honors a U.S. scholar can receive. Congratulations to all four of them!

We also congratulate professors Alan Luo, Judit Puskas, and Longya Xu. They were elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

And we have two new members of the national academy of inventors to congratulate — Professor Jianrong Li and Professor Peixuan Guo — and Professor Dehua Pei for being named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors.

Ohio State’s vice president for knowledge enterprise, Dr. Grejner-Brzezinska, was also recently appointed to the National Science Board by President Joe Biden. And College of Medicine’s Dr. Fred Tabung was appointed by President Biden to the National Cancer Advisory Board.

These distinguished faculty and leaders provide inspiring examples to our students, who are of course eager to make an impact of their own.

Among those students are eight undergraduates selected by our Center for Ethics and Human Values for the 2023 cohort of Civil Discourse Fellows. Under the leadership of Director Piers Norris Turner, the fellows will help plan and moderate Civil Discourse Forums on campus and serve as ambassadors for constructive dialogue throughout the year.

In closing, the Buckeyes I’ve mentioned, as well as our collective achievements over the past few months, are representative of the incredible work our university community does every day.

Ohio State continues to set new standards of excellence. And with the extraordinary generosity of alumni and friends like Mr. and Mrs. Timashev and their family, there really is no telling what Buckeyes can achieve in the future.

Thank you for your time.  This concludes my report.