University Leadership: Joseph E. Steinmetz
September 18, 2012
You have recently entered your second year as Executive Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. What activities have you been most focused on during this time?
Almost all of my attention during the first year was concentrated on our efforts to restructure arts and sciences here at Ohio State, which was realized on June 18 when the Board of Trustees approved the formation of a unified College of Arts and Sciences to replace the five legacy colleges that have existed for the last 40 years. The new college is among the largest arts and sciences colleges in the country with almost 1,200 faculty in three schools, 36 departments, and more than 20 interdisciplinary programs, centers, and institutes. And, with the excellent faculty, staff, and students that make up the college, we are among the best in the country as well. I would say the second major thing I focused on this past year was meeting and getting to know as many people as possible at this large and comprehensive university and in the community. My wife, Sandy, and I already feel at home in Columbus and have been welcomed warmly by everyone.
You have a long history of teaching and research as a faculty member. Can you share a bit about the focus of your scholarship that initiated your role in academic life?
I am an experimental psychologist/behavioral neuroscientist by training and my research over the years has explored how the brain is involved in learning and memory. My laboratory has focused on the involvement of specific brain regions in simple motor learning tasks, and we have studied how neurons in the brain change when an organism is learning and remembering. Our work has led us in many directions over the years, including a number of studies that have explored brain function during learning and memory in people with a variety of clinical disorders including autism, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and fetal alcohol syndrome. I have had the pleasure over the years of working with a many great undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows in my laboratory, many of whom are now in positions of their own around the country. I have had a rewarding and fulfilling career as an academic!
Have you come across a favorite spot on campus that you’d encourage alumni, donors, and friends to visit?
I love the Oval. My office in University Hall looks out over the Oval and it seems to be always busy. I look forward to the beginning of quarters, as activity on the Oval picks up dramatically. Seeing the students studying, playing, sleeping, protesting, conversing, or whatever else they happen to be doing, provides me with a constant reminder of the primary reason we are here—to provide students with a great education that will be life changing.
You became one of the newest donors recognized by the President’s Club when you initiated support through Ohio State’s Campus Campaign, the faculty and staff annual giving campaign. How did you determine the areas you would support?
The arts play a significant role in promoting the vibrancy of arts and sciences and contribute significantly to enhancing life on campus and in the community. Sandy and I decided to target our donation this year to support the arts and therefore split our contribution among several funds within the College of Arts and Sciences that promote the performing and visual arts. In addition, we provided support to the Department of Psychology, my home department. The psychology department here at Ohio State is one of the best in the country and I am thrilled to be a member of its faculty