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A vision to spread opportunity more widely

President Johnson’s first State of the University address focused on bringing down barriers to higher ed and giving students the ability to thrive
President Kristina M. Johnson.

Over the next decade, President Kristina Johnson envisions Ohio State bringing down barriers to higher education, supporting students on a more personal level and delivering life-changing opportunities.

 “Ohio State was created to spread opportunity more widely,” said Johnson during her first State of the University address. “We were created to allow people from ordinary backgrounds to do extraordinary things.”

How? Johnson highlighted a commitment to four areas of excellence and outlined what they mean to Ohio State’s students:

Excellence in service to citizens

Johnson envisions Ohio State becoming a national leader in recruiting, retaining and graduating students from underrepresented groups. That starts with markedly reducing the cost of higher education.

Over the next decade, Johnson said Ohio State will take steps to ensure undergrads leave Ohio State debt free.

Another major initiative will be to improve and grow online offerings so more students can earn degrees at their own pace.

And more degrees means more economic growth, Johnson pointed out, because businesses are attracted to states with educated workforces. She also noted the institution will work with the business community to assess and address the changing job market. Ohio State’s new engineering technology degree program which emphasizes advanced manufacturing is one example of this idea in practice.

Academic excellence and a culture of inclusiveness

It starts with more excellent faculty members. Johnson said Ohio State is developing a plan to hire a minimum of 350 new tenure-track faculty. That will include 150 faculty from a new initiative called RAISE (Race, Inclusion and Social Equity). These faculty will include:

  • Fifty RAISE faculty members who are scientists, artists and scholars who are addressing social equity and racial disparities.
  • A goal of making 100 RAISE faculty hires who are from underrepresented communities. “I want every single Ohio State student to be able to look across the lecture hall or seminar table and understand immediately that their dreams are valid and achievable.”

Johnson said the faculty hiring plan includes 150 scholars in high-demand fields. She added that the hires will improve Ohio State’s faculty-student ration and enable it to cap class sizes at 50 students.

Excellence in research and creative expression

Every year, thousands of undergraduate students participate in research across Ohio State’s campuses. However, Johnson plans to up the ante on Ohio State’s reputation as a research institution by doubling the sponsored research across all campuses: “Doubling the research opportunities we offer the next generation of explorers and discoverers.”

Entrepreneurship and partnerships

Johnson wants Ohio State students to become, “leaders in the entrepreneurial economy we foster.” To support this effort, Ohio State is building a student startup accelerator and creating an annual student competition for students to be selected as Buckeye Entrepreneurs. Those selected will get $50,000 to work on new ventures for a year before being introduced to potential investors and partners.

Ohio State is also investing heavily in physical environments that boost creativity, discovery and entrepreneurship. Among those investments includes a 270-acre Innovation District and a new arts district with a new building for the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Arts.

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