6-7-2006

Contact: Shelly Hoffman or Jim Lynch, (614) 247-4748 or (614) 247-4110

President Holbrook to retire in 2007

Columbus - Ohio State University President Karen A. Holbrook announced today that she will retire from her position when her existing contract as university president expires in June, 2007.

She said she reached the decision in consultation with her husband, Jim Holbrook, an oceanographer and past Deputy Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Research Laboratory in Seattle. In a letter to the Board, Holbrook said, "I have spent more than thirty-five years in higher education, and as you know Jim has been retired from his active career for ten years, following me to three universities and looking forward to the time when we can spend more time together."

Judge Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the board of trustees, said, "President Holbrook has done an exceptional job in advancing the mission of the university. Her accomplishments have been many. Her intellect, her tireless efforts in stimulating research, promoting outreach, and improving the quality of students and student life have been notable. In particular, her efforts in forging a robust relationship with Battelle have uniquely positioned the university for promising opportunities with that research partner. She has represented the university with distinction at the local, state, national and international level, serving on numerous important boards, and she has proven to be a leader of great integrity who has performed with grace under pressure. The Board of Trustees is grateful for the leadership that she has provided during her tenure as president, and we look forward to continuing that partnership in the next year."

Holbrook became Ohio State's 13th president in October, 2002. Her tenure has been marked by significant accomplishments in research funding, national rankings, the quality of incoming students, graduation and retention rates, commitment to diversity, and the development of partnerships leading to research and education initiatives.

"In 2002 I was hired by the Board of Trustees to continue the upward trajectory of the academic and research standing of Ohio State. With the support of the Board, and working with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university, we have made great strides in doing just that," Holbrook said.

The university moved up in the U.S. News & World Report rankings to 21st among the nation's public universities. With annual research expenditures now exceeding $550 million a year, Ohio State is ranked 9th among the top 10 public research universities in the nation by the National Science Foundation based on the amount of sponsored research. Ohio State also leaped 15 places to 24th in the rankings of total federal research expenditures in 2004 - the largest jump of any top-100 university.

Annual giving has grown steadily in terms of both donors and dollars, up to 104,607 donors in 2005-06 contributing over $204 million, ranking Ohio State 8th in the nation among public universities. The university's endowment has grown from just over $1 billion in 2003 to just over $2 billion in 2006.

"Without question the university's stature has improved along with a universal recognition of that stature," Holbrook said.

Under Holbrook's leadership, the university formed partnerships with Battelle, Chemical Abstracts, the City of Columbus, the Columbus Public Schools and other Franklin County school districts on a number of initiatives. Among them is the launch of Metro High School, a model public school for students with an interest in science, math and technology. As part of a university effort toward developing a seamless P-16+ education system, ground was broken in 2005 for an Early Childhood Development Center at Columbus's Weinland Park Elementary School. The center will provide training for Ohio State students and top-quality child care to low-income neighbors and will allow researchers to develop innovative strategies for early childhood education and care.

Each year the incoming undergraduates have been better prepared, with an improved composite ACT score. As a result, freshman-sophomore retention has risen to 89.7%, well above the average among similar universities, and the six-year graduation rate has risen from 55% to 68% in just five years.

President Holbrook arrived at Ohio State after serving four years as Senior Vice President and Provost at the University of Georgia, where she also was Professor of Cell Biology, and Adjunct Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Holbrook received Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in Biological Structure from the University of Washington. Before going to Georgia in 1998, she served as an Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Associate Dean and Professor of Biological Structure and Medicine at the University of Washington (1972-93) and as Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida (1993-98).

Editors note: Click here for a PDF file of President Holbrook's letter to the Board of Trustees.
Click here for a PDF file of the letter to President Holbrook from Board of Trustees Chair Robert Duncan.