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Ohio State University logo Academic Plan

2006 Update

2005 Update

2004 Update

2003 Update

Past Updates

Academic Plan Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Executive Summary
  3. The Ohio State University Vision
  4. Setting the Stage: Context and Strategies for the Academic Plan
  5. Strategies and Initiatives:
    1. Build a World-Class Faculty
    2. Develop Academic Programs that Define Ohio State as the Nation's Leading Public Land-Grant University
    3. Improve the Quality of the Teaching and Learning Environment
    4. Enhance and Better Serve the Student Body
    5. Create a More Diverse University Community
    6. Help Build Ohio's Future
  6. Facilitating Actions:
    1. Obtain Increased State Support
    2. Improve the Organization and Delivery of Instruction
    3. Increase Organizational Flexibility
    4. Improve the Faculty Work Environment
  7. Continuing Activities
  8. Resources
  9. The Academic Scorecard
  10. Print Out The Academic Plan (pdf file)
  11. Create A Diverse University Community

Strategies and Initiatives

Over recent years, The Ohio State University has focused on four core elements:

  • Becoming a national leader in the quality of our academic programs;
  • Being universally acclaimed for the quality of the learning experience we offer our students;
  • Creating an environment that truly values and is enriched by diversity; and
  • Expanding the land-grant mission to address our society's most compelling needs.

These core elements were fundamental to the preparation of this plan. They are reflected in the six strategies and 14 supporting initiatives that follow. Consistent with our vision and circumstances, these strategies are to:

1. Build a world-class faculty.
2. Develop academic programs that define Ohio State as the nation's leading public land-grant university.
3. Improve the quality of the teaching and learning environment.
4. Enhance and better serve the student body.
5. Create a more diverse University community.
6. Help build Ohio's future.

It is important to emphasize that the University will continue to be engaged in a wide array of useful and important initiatives, only a few of which are reflected in this Plan. The initiatives and resource plan contained herein are designed not simply to sustain progress, but to accelerate it over the next five years - to take the University to a higher level of performance. They represent a manageable number of items with the potential to fundamentally transform the University.

In developing this plan, we have drawn on the thoughtful and thorough work of the Research Commission; the Reports on Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional Experience; the Diversity Action Plan; the President's Council on Outreach and Engagement; and numerous other documents.

Strategy: Build a World-Class Faculty

Academic excellence begins with high-quality faculty. Faculty not only enhance the University's teaching and programmatic reputation but also attract the highest quality students at all levels. More than any other single factor, attracting and keeping exceptional faculty members will help us become a great university.

In its 1998 report, The Ohio State University Research Commission found that, compared to benchmark institutions, Ohio State has few faculty who have attained the highest honors and that our total faculty complement in critical disciplines is low when compared to our benchmark peers. Relative to peer institutions, for example, Ohio State has no disciplines ranked in the first quartile of the NRC or USN&WR rankings, and only three of 38 disciplines in the second quartile of the NRC rankings. Clearly, every faculty hire is important. The ability to hire a dozen or so exceptional senior faculty of international acclaim over the next five years will significantly enhance our reputation and complement our efforts to hire the very best faculty at every level.

But no strategy to enhance faculty quality will succeed without compensation that is competitive with our peer universities. Today, our faculty compensation does not rank in the top half of our benchmark institutions.

To address these challenges, we will:

1. Over the next three to five years, recruit at least 12 faculty members who have attained or have the potential to attain the highest honors in their disciplines, concentrating these appointments in areas of strategic focus. Implementation: Begin immediately to recruit 2-3 internationally eminent, National Academy caliber faculty members per year. Cost: $3.6M in continuing funding for salary and benefits and $15M in one-time funding for start-up packages.

2. Implement a faculty recruitment, retention, and development plan - including a competitive, merit-based compensation structure - that is in line with our benchmark institutions. Implementation: Adopt a 2-3 year merit-based plan to match the average faculty salaries at our benchmark institutions, which requires an increase of 2.5% beyond the 4% baseline. Provide competitively funded enhanced support for our most promising junior and senior faculty. Cost: $13.5M in continuing funding over the next five years.

Strategy: Develop academic programs that define Ohio State as the nation's leading public land-grant university.

Academic excellence requires that the quality and reputation of our academic programs rival those of our benchmark institutions. While we lag these institutions in the number of programs that are highly rated in the NRC and USN&WR rankings, our 2010 Plan provides a roadmap for success. As already noted, that plan is designed to move Ohio State into the top-tier of America's public research universities by the year 2010, with 10 programs ranked in the top 10 in their respective disciplines and 20 programs ranked in the top 20.

In the last three years, the University has identified 13 programs that within the next few years will receive $1 million each in additional continuing funding - a level of continuing support that is equivalent to an endowment of $260 million. Already, our recent emphasis on focused investment has fostered programmatic development in areas of strategic importance. By continuing to "invest for success," we will create top-quality academic programs that will move us toward parity or better with our peer institutions.

We must also invest in research space. Although significant improvements in research space are either planned or will be coming online soon, Ohio State remains well below the benchmark institutions identified by the Research Commission in providing the infrastructure needed for modern research. With enhanced research facilities, we will be better able to recruit and retain faculty and to increase the volume of funded research.

Finally, great research universities typically house a number of nationally prominent research centers that flourish outside traditional disciplinary boundaries. These centers initiate cutting-edge research and educational opportunities that are oriented around important problems rather than disciplines. Often, such world-class centers connect with the community through outreach and technology transfer. Strong multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary centers also help attract and retain exceptional faculty and attract and retain to graduation talented students. Many of the major research opportunities of the future, particularly in the international arena, will require such multidisciplinary collaboration.

The following initiatives, and the two that precede them, are closely linked in purpose and must be closely linked in execution. For example, quality research space and equipment must be available to effectively recruit and retain faculty and to develop multidisciplinary institutes and centers.

To meet these challenges, we will:

3. Continue the Strategic Investment approach by competitively funding initiatives that build programmatic strength and open new fields. Build on existing capabilities and capture opportunities specific to Ohio State and to Ohio. Maintain ongoing multidisciplinary initiatives where appropriate and develop new initiatives that draw on University-wide strengths to attack major problems of the next quarter century. Create multidisciplinary centers that can attract additional faculty in key areas, helping reduce student-faculty ratios in high-demand fields.

Implementation: Fund 3-5 initiatives each year that will capture a unique opportunity within a discipline, create an interdisciplinary program, or link a range of disciplines for a coherent attack on a highly complex area. Fund at least one program of each type in each year. Fund each initiative at a level that allows it to become one of the nation's leading programs. Cost: While support for personnel, facilities, and equipment can vary widely by research area, a typical threshold level for a multidisciplinary center is approximately $1-3M in continuing funds and up to $10M in one-time costs. Total: $9M/yr in continuing funds for five years for faculty and staff salaries and operating expenses and $30-50M in one-time funds for start-up support.

4. Significantly increase space dedicated to funded research beyond what is currently planned. Include a multidisciplinary building devoted to high- quality research space as well as to office and meeting space. Implementation: Allocate $250M by FY05 through prioritized capital budget requests to enhance research activity and pursue funding from multiple sources; maximize the use of Ohio Board of Regents' matching funds to enhance the research equipment base on campus; and increase support for maintenance. Cost: About $250M in one-time funds plus $3.8M/yr in increased operating costs. This level of investment will fully equip approximately 250,000 assigned square feet of new research space. [Note: Meeting the University's total need in this area may require comparable sums over the next 20 years.]

Strategy: Enhance the Quality of the Teaching and Learning Environment

Academic excellence is dependent upon many factors, including up-to-date infrastructure and leading-edge learning tools. One major driver for this infrastructure need is technology, which is transforming teaching and learning along with many other aspects of University life and operations. Another is the need to renovate, update, equip, and maintain classrooms and instructional laboratories and to maintain an attractive campus environment. While it will require a number of years and significant resources to bring all University facilities into the modern age, we need to jump-start the process and instill a sense of urgency in achieving that objective.

We should also recognize that the development of distance learning programs can help us benefit students from around the world while reducing the need for costly physical facilities. In addition, following a period of transitional investment, distance learning programs have great revenue-raising potential.

To begin this process, we will:

5. Transform the Library into a 21st century, Information-Age center within the next 5 to 10 years. Implementation: Combine fund-raising with support from state capital funding budgets over the next several biennia. Cost: $20-30M in one-time costs plus $2.5M in acquisitions over the next 5 years. (Cost assumes that the private, fund-raising portion of a $60-70M library renovation will be $20-$30M.)

6. Upgrade the quality of our classroom pool space and enhance the appearance of the campus facilities and grounds. Implementation: 1) Build 25 state-of- the-art classrooms (5/yr for 5 years) in addition to the 85 for which funding is in place while enhancing classroom cleanliness and providing modern equipment. 2) Add Project Cleaning Teams (each with 8 custodians and a supervisor) to augment today's custodial staff as well as high-intensity grounds maintenance to the seven most highly visible areas of the campus. Total Cost: $2.9M in continuing funding and $1.9M in one-time funding for updated classrooms.

7. Provide faculty, staff, and students with the latest technology tools for leadership in teaching, learning, research, and career development within the next 5 years. Implementation: Focus on distance and web-based education programs, comprehensive student support, on-campus Internet connectivity, infrastructure, remote connectivity, and a data strategy to improve coordination, quality, and accessibility of information and response times. Seek sponsored-research support to evaluate the effect of new technologies and teaching methods on student learning. Create web-based and distance learning programs that can reduce the incidence of closed courses in high- demand areas and provide improved state-of-the-art Information Technology capabilities to improve the quality of academic advising and other student support services.

Cost: $10M in one-time funds for technology-enhanced learning, $50M in one-time funds for Student Information System, $6M in continuing and $2.5M in one-time funds for shared technology infrastructure, and $1M in continuing and $5M in one-time funding for enterprise data strategy. Totals: $7M in continuing funds and $67.5M in one-time funding.

Strategy: Enhance and Better Serve the Student Body

To be an academically excellent institution, we must recruit and retain to graduation an excellent and diverse undergraduate, graduate, and professional student body. More talented and better-prepared students require less remediation, face fewer academic difficulties, and graduate in higher numbers and in a shorter time-span. Better prepared students also help attract better faculty, grants, and awards and enhance the University's academic reputation.

Since the University began admitting fall quarter undergraduate students on a selective basis in 1987, and particularly recently, the quality of preparation of the incoming class has improved. We must now accelerate our efforts to recruit and retain to graduation an excellent and diverse student body. Today, only about half of our new undergraduate students (the fall freshmen) are admitted selectively. To continue this improvement, we must implement our enrollment plan and extend selective admission to all incoming students - freshmen entering in winter and spring as well as all transfer students.

In moving forward with the implementation of a selective admissions policy, it is important to preserve our land-grant role in serving the people of Ohio. In part, that role includes providing access for qualified students regardless of their economic need, an issue that is addressed in Initiative #10 below. Our land-grant mission also assures access to the University to any student who can attain the preparation and skills needed to succeed at Ohio State. The regional campuses will continue to provide open access to students and provide them with the opportunity to complete Ohio State University degrees - to a limited extent at the regional campuses and more generally at the Columbus Campus. We will also continue our efforts to improve articulation agreements with community colleges and to provide financial aid to qualified transfer students.

In addition, we need to better serve the better-prepared students who are entering Ohio State. Thus far, we have increased our emphasis on enhanced student life and improved student support services. It is now time to focus more on academic enhancements, including greater course accessibility, smaller classes, more undergraduate research opportunities, additional honors and scholars programs, and more and higher quality advising and career counseling. We also need to utilize instructional technology and changes in the budget process to more quickly and effectively respond to academic program choices in emerging areas, such as Information Technology and Management.

Finally, the Research Commission found that, "Even in some strong departments, OSU appears less able to attract graduate students from highly ranked programs than some leading peers." To attract the best, we must improve the fellowship packages we offer since our standard one-year fellowships are less attractive than those of many competing institutions. In focusing on recruiting higher ability, better-prepared graduate and professional students, we should target candidates from highly ranked undergraduate institutions. In the process, we must assure a growing proportion of diverse graduate and professional students.

With these goals in mind, we will:

8. Within the next three years, make admission to Ohio State selective throughout the year for new freshmen and for all transfer students. Implementation: Move in stages to selective admission for transfer students and those admitted in winter and spring quarters. More effectively utilize the regional campuses as alternate entry portals. Enhance relationships with community colleges for the recruitment of sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Cost: The net financial impact of these changes is difficult to predict. Over the short run (next 3-5 years), tuition and state instructional support are likely to decline along with the number of newly-admitted freshman and transfer students. Over the longer run (next 4-7 years), increases in student retention, increased state instructional support for upper-level courses and better enrollment planning could generate additional revenue. Recognizing this situation, the Enrollment Management Steering Committee developed a number of alternative scenarios to model the net impact of these changes. The estimate included in this plan - a five-year revenue loss of $2.5M in continuing funds and $10M in one-time funds - is in the middle range of these estimates. Actual results must be monitored and carefully managed as the plan is implemented to appropriately balance academic goals and financial implications.

9. Create a rich educational environment for undergraduates. Increase course accessibility, reduce class sizes, and establish at least 10 Scholars programs within five years - expanding opportunities for students to live with those who share common interests and enhancing students' academic success and sense of community. Provide academic programming, advising, and career counseling within these communities. Implementation: One program was created last year. Add 3 programs in 2000-2001; 5 programs in 2001-2002; and 1 program in 2002-2003. It's projected that 5,300 students will be involved in scholar programs by 2005-2006. Cost: $5.3M in continuing costs.

10. Provide ample need-based and merit-based aid for undergraduates and a competitive financial aid and fellowship support package for graduate and professional students to improve Ohio State's graduate and professional matriculation rate. Implementation: Adjust need-based aid funds commensurate with increases to undergraduate tuition. Implement the relevant recommendations of the Research Commission Report and the G-QUE (Graduate Quality of University Experience) and I-QUE (Inter- professional Quality of University Experience) reports.

Cost: An additional $0-10M for undergraduate student financial aid, depending on the extent to which tuition increases exceed the cap. $5.34M in continuing costs, as follows: 125 additional first-year graduate fellowships @ $16,800 ($2.1M); 125 additional dissertation-year graduate fellowships @ $16,800 ($2.1M); 25 professional student fellowships @ $16,800 ($420K); and increased graduate fellowship stipend level from $1,200 to $1,400/month to match $16,800 annual level ($720,000).

Strategy: Create a Diverse University Community

A growing body of research links diversity and academic excellence. We now know that students learn better in a diverse setting. In fact, college students who experience the most racial and ethnic diversity in the classrooms and in informal interactions on campus become better learners and better citizens. As a result, students who attend a truly diverse university are better prepared to live and work in a multi- cultural society and a global economy.

To create this rich learning environment, Ohio State must recruit and retain greater numbers of women and minorities into faculty, staff, and administrative positions - especially senior positions. Such senior faculty arrive with tenure and serve as role models and mentors for their junior counterparts. We must also recruit and retain to graduation greater numbers of ethnic minority students and create a culture of inclusiveness that respects and values differences. We must assure that all groups are represented in campus diversity policy and that the newly established Women's Place receives adequate support. In our efforts to support P-12 education, we must enhance the pool of minority students who can succeed at Ohio State. Finally, we must ensure that deans, department chairs, and other leaders are held accountable for their part in increasing campus diversity.

A series of specific goals and initiatives are included in the University's Diversity Action Plan. We strongly support them all. Consistent with this Academic Plan's focus on academic excellence, we have highlighted the following items. We will:

11. Hire at least 5-10 women and 5-10 minority faculty at a senior level each year for 5 years through the Faculty Hiring Assistance Program (FHAP) and other initiatives. Implementation: Modify the FHAP by focusing funding on two especially important needs. One is to help departments with small pools of women and minority candidates. The other is to help units that have been successful in increasing diversity to hire senior-level faculty. Cost: $250-500K/yr for 5 years for a total of $1.25 - $2.5M in additional continuing costs.

12. Recruit, support, and retain to graduation larger numbers of academically able minority students. Implementation: Increase investment in relevant programs and more effectively coordinate efforts of academic departments and colleges with the Offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, Enrollment Management, and Minority Affairs. Improve the climate for diversity through seminars, courses, and programs along with the establishment of a multicultural center and support of the Women's Place. Cost: $3M for additional new freshman recruitment and merit scholarships; $2.5M for recruitment and scholarships for able transfer students from community colleges; $1.5M for academic support programs; and $800K for improving the climate for diversity. Total: $7.8M in continuing funding over 5 years.

Strategy: Help Build Ohio's Future

Since our founding in 1870 as a land-grant college, Ohio State has proudly and effectively served Ohio and its people - educating hundreds of thousands of Ohioans and applying our base of knowledge and skills to economic and societal needs. Our pro-active outreach and engagement initiatives integrate teaching, scholarship, and research. They also connect our research results to community needs and to the global marketplace - a dynamic aspect of academic excellence. And while few would contest Ohio State's past and present success, economic and social trends have changed contemporary community needs. In response, we must expand our land-grant mission.

Ohio State's current outreach agenda reaches across every facet of the University. Outreach programs number in the hundreds. For example, our agricultural extension programs offer economic development information and educational opportunities in every county of the state. Our continuing education programs, supplemented increasingly by distance learning, make lifelong learning a reality for all citizens. WOSU broadcasts radio and television coverage of public affairs and other matters of important public interest. Through the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, and through other targeted interdisciplinary policy initiatives, the University is studying policy issues and encouraging public service. Faculty, staff, and students help people in the campus neighborhood with health, educational, and legal problems.

In recent years, Ohio State has added to its traditional focus on areas such as agriculture by initiating campus-wide outreach efforts in technology-based economic development, community healthcare delivery and neighborhood revitalization (Campus Partners). We are now adding an additional area of campus-wide concentration, which is the improvement of primary and secondary education. This is an area where we can serve our community, state, and nation while strengthening the pipeline for potential university students.

In economic development, TechPartners provides the infrastructure and entrepreneurial environment to commercialize technology generated at the University for the benefit of Ohio and its people. Involving three University offices and four non- University organizations, this collaboration is helping to build a greater Ohio presence in the new Information Age economy. Among these partners are SciTech, the Science & Technology Campus Corporation, a research park connected to the University. Over the long term, Tech Partners' collaboration with business and government will increase research funding, attract and retain entrepreneurial faculty, involve students in experiential learning, increase inventions and licenses, attract venture capital funding, and help to build Ohio's economy.

To launch this education initiative, and accelerate TechPartners, we will:

13. Significantly strengthen the scope and effectiveness of our commitment to P-12 public education, with a special focus on the education of underserved children and youth. In so doing, we will work with the State of Ohio and selected local school districts. This initiative will be a University-wide partnership, with the College of Education in the lead college role. More specifically, we will:

  • Strengthen initial teacher preparation and teacher professional development through collaborations between arts and sciences and education faculty.
  • Build cross-college collaborative initiatives in math/science education, early literacy, and education leadership.
  • Work with Columbus and other urban school districts to develop "best practice" P-12 learning strategies.
  • Establish Ohio State as a vital source for education policy and school improvement in Ohio and the nation.

Total Cost: $500K/yr in University-based funding for campus-wide activity, which will leverage additional monies from foundations and business.

14. Become the catalyst for the development of Ohio's technology-based economy. Increase collaborations with the private sector to enhance research, successfully transfer University technology, and provide experiential learning and career opportunities for students. Implementation: Make SciTech a national leader in technology transfer and University-related enterprise development. Position TechPartners as a nationally recognized vehicle to increase the University's competitiveness; attract top faculty, students, and research funding; and create a tangible positive impact on Ohio's economy.

  • Complete development of a seamless University-wide strategy that dovetails with internal and external partners and constituencies and that integrates separate marketing and communications activities.
  • Execute plan strategies, e.g., educational outreach to University and technology communities and co-sponsorship of major events that reinforce technology initiatives.
  • Aggressively support activities that can "leapfrog" Ohio State into a position of national prominence in technology partnerships, particularly broad-scale involvement with companies that enhances research and experiential learning opportunities for students.

Total Cost: $500K/yr in University-based funding for campus-wide activity, which will leverage additional monies from foundations and business.


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