This summer, Ohio State President Michael V. Drake and a contingent of university students, staff and alumni traversed the state as part of the annual Ohio State Tour.
The four-day tour wound through nearly 1,000 miles and 20 stops in southwestern and northeastern Ohio. It provided multiple opportunities to demonstrate how innovations developed at Ohio State are benefitting the state at large, and showed the myriad ways the institution's alumni and friends are making a difference in their home communities.
“Our state tour highlights the deep and varied connections that Ohio State shares with communities throughout Ohio," Drake said. "Buckeye Nation stretches across the globe but we need only look in our own backyards to see the incredible work being done by our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.”
The visits also highlighted the progress of Drake's 2020 Vision for the university, and shared examples of how the university continues to improve its status as one of the country's top public universities. Here is a look at four of the stops on this year's tour.
Access, affordability and excellence
Location: Choffin Career and Technical Center, Youngstown
Event: College Affordability Forum
Robert Soto Sr. saw a marked change in his son Robert Jr. when he joined Ohio State's Young Scholars Program.
"I saw him grow," Soto Sr. said. "Not only in physicality and height, but also in his mindset."
Soto Sr. and Jr. were two of the participants at a college affordability forum that was part of the Ohio State Tour. The forum gave Drake an opportunity to highlight the importance of a college education that is accessible, affordable and excellent, and how the Young Scholars Program is one access point that's helped a number of students achieve success.
Young Scholars alumnus CJ Clardy spoke about the program and the ways it helped prepare him for college and ensure his success. Clardy graduated with a degree in special education last spring and will begin graduate school at Vanderbilt University this fall.
Robert Soto Jr. hasn't started his college experience yet (he plans to arrive on campus in the fall of 2018) but the soon-to-be high school junior already feels like Young Scholars has him pointed in the right direction.
"When I joined the program I didn’t understand how important it was and how real it was that I would be able to go to a university like Ohio State," said Soto Jr., who is interested in pursuing a degree in social work at Ohio State." I love the feeling of pride in being a Buckeye and being a part of something."
Buckeyes in business
Location: Procter & Gamble's global headquarters, Cincinnati
Event: Meeting with alumni and partners of Women in Engineering
Walking through a museum of familiar household products, Shane Meeker ’97 tells the story of a Cincinnati company that got its start making candles for Union soldiers during the Civil War and became famous for inventing the “soap that floats.”
Meeker, Procter & Gamble’s corporate storyteller and company historian, is one of many Buckeyes with an exciting career at the consumer goods company. Alumni work in a variety of departments, including the research and development division responsible for creating well-known brands like Tide, Downy and Swiffer.
As a PhD student at Ohio State, Jeanette Richards ’02 studied pathways related to breast cancer. Today, as a senior scientist for P&G, she applies that knowledge to hair and scalp biology, improving products for multiethnic hair that reach consumers in West Africa.
“With our particular program (at Ohio State), we actually collaborated a lot, and that really set me up to collaborate with the first group of scientists when I got to P&G,” Richards said. “Ohio State prepared me very, very well for this career.”
Cultivating food security
Location: Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati
Event: Service project supporting food security
A pile of shovels, hoes and gardening gloves disappeared within seconds at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. Buckeyes were here to make a big difference in a short amount of time.
The Civic Garden Center has helped develop and maintain 50 community and children’s gardens throughout the city. On this day, the center needed volunteers to convert lawns and flower beds into a large vegetable garden that will serve local food pantries.
Food security is an area of focus at Ohio State, which hosted its first Buckeye Summit on the topic in the spring. In addition to bringing collective expertise to bear on this issue, Buckeye volunteers around the nation have participated in service projects that support food security for all.
“It would take weeks for an organization to do this by itself, and we can show up with a couple-dozen strong Buckeyes and take care of it in a day,” Drake said as he sifted dirt into a wheelbarrow. “To work with the land and to produce food for people in our own community is something we all benefit from."
Ohio State connections
Location: Next Generation Films, Mansfield, Ohio
Event: Meeting with key business partners
Next Generation Films is a growing business that expects to reach nearly half a billion dollars in sales in the next few years. It's also closely connected to Ohio State in a number of ways.
Vice president of operations Jason Frecka is an Ohio State alum, having earned a finance degree from Fisher College of Business in 2003. Next Gen has also provided internship opportunities, and College of Engineering student Nico Shaut is one of the students who has benefitted from the program. "It's been invaluable to me to have this experience and apply what I'm learning at Ohio State in a real-world setting," he said.
Shaut isn't going to be the only student who benefits from Next Generation's partnership with Ohio State. It recently committed $500,000 to the Ohio State Mansfield engineering program. Dave Daniels, a 1974 graduate of Ohio State and current member of the Mansfield Board of Trustees, said the gift grew out of discussions the Ohio State Mansfield leadership team had with the local business community.
"We asked our local employers, 'what do you need, and are we providing it,' not only today, but with an eye to the future," Daniels said. "We have a number of small businesses who expressed that their need is for engineering-type students who can think outside of the box and create new ideas. The gift from Next Gen is going to help us further promote the development of our engineering program and provide the kind of employees and people that our businesses need."