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KeyNotes Spring 2012


Spring 2012

June 18, 2012: A New Era Begins

Ohio State will enter a brand-new era in just a few days. On June 18 we will make our long-anticipated shift from quarters to semesters. The extent of your participation in readying the university for this change has been nothing short of stunning. In my 20-plus years here, I have never before seen such great good will focused on a common cause, one whose value some questioned at the outset but that was soon recognized as an opportunity to revise earlier ways of thinking about curricula, programs, and degree offerings. In anticipation of the switch, more than 12,000 courses and some 700 programs have been approved for the semester calendar. Of those, fully half are new or re-envisioned. Clearly, you have taken advantage of the semester shift to redefine Ohio State’s curriculum.

The shift has also given rise to streamlined practices in such offices as Human Resources, the University Registrar, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life, and Business and Finance. In fact, I can think of no aspect of university life that has been untouched by the move to semesters.

This massive effort has been led by Vice Provost Randy Smith and Associate Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Fink. Together, they have guided the meticulous planning and daunting implementation of this academic sea change since the University Senate’s approval of the semester calendar in 2009. The success of the shift will be due in no small measure to their collegial, inclusive approach to imagining our future on semesters and, especially, to their tireless efforts to be sure we got it right.

An Arts District for Ohio State

If you have passed Sullivant Hall in recent weeks, you have witnessed the evidence of its renovation. Construction trailers and debris haulers, the noise of demolition within, the activity of a small army of workers—all this is in preparation for a new incarnation for Sullivant, which will be home to our Departments of Dance and Art Education; the university’s art gallery; and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, which is the world’s largest academic facility dedicated to cartoon art. The renovations, to be complete in 2014, will include four newly designed studios and a heightened roof to provide a flexible performance space with ample natural light. Walls of windows will provide greater visibility to the campus and the community. Changes also include the permanent location of the Music and Dance Library, formerly housed in Sullivant, in improved space within the Science and Engineering Library.

These modifications to our academic landscape are all part of the comprehensive physical vision for our campus known as the One University Framework. The Framework plan calls for the creation of a number of distinct districts across campus—the academic core north, health sciences, science and technology, residential life, athletics and recreation, western lands (West Campus), and an arts district at 15th Avenue and High Street. According to the Framework, the arts district will “allow artists, designers, musicians, actors, and dancers to create, think, and perform together. … The location also connects to vital eastern neighborhoods and positions the arts as the public face of the university.” A vibrant university arts district will also permit enhanced collaboration with downtown arts organizations, and that will benefit everyone.

In addition to the Sullivant Hall project, facelifts for Hughes, Hopkins, and Hayes Halls are part of the arts district planning. Hughes was renovated last summer to improve the acoustic nature of the building for its School of Music occupants. Hopkins is undergoing a more radical two-year modification, now nearing completion. Its brick exterior has been replaced with walls of glass and the interior reconfigured to create brighter working spaces for artists. I might add that the new Hopkins will be green and will seek a Silver LEED Certification. Hayes Hall has also been renovated and now houses all programs of the Department of Design.

We will invest $200 million in the arts district, which will eventually include the renovation and expansion of Weigel Hall, expansion of the Wexner Center for the Arts, and construction of a new arts complex to replace the Drake Performance and Event Center. Redesigned sidewalks, new street lighting, and trees planted from Lane Avenue to the South Campus Gateway will complete an environment that, according to the Framework plan, will “beat with passion, life, and learning.”

That vision is instrumental to our overall strategic vision of Ohio State as a Top 10 institution by 2020.

Top 10 Status: How We Will Get There

As I reported to the University Senate in February, and as I discussed in the winter issue of keyNotes, university reputation is greatly determined by the number and quality of faculty actively involved in teaching and research; the ability to provide outstanding students with access to high-quality programs, regardless of economic background; superb on-campus experiences that support students’ aspirations and career goals; and sufficient resources to support these three critical facets of university life. To achieve recognition as a top ten public research university by 2020, over the next ten years Ohio State will prioritize the following focus areas:


  • Increase the size of the tenure-track faculty by 8 to 10 percent.

This should result in improvements in average class size, the number of smaller classes offered, the percentage of faculty who are committed full time, the generation of externally funded research support, and opportunities for translational activities that have economic impacts.

  • Focus on recruiting and retaining a mix of both senior and junior faculty members.

This would reinforce the overall academic reputation of the university, while building the basis for continued future excellence.

  • Increase funding to support research and teaching in the Discovery Themes of Health and Wellness, Food Production and Security, and Energy and Environment.

These initiatives would capitalize on current investments and sustain our involvement in problem solving of world-wide significance.

Estimated Cost Over Ten Years: $300 Million

Student Quality

  • Increase financial aid to maintain access and attract students best capable of benefitting from program quality.

This strategy would expand the financial resources we have committed to academic programs and graduation rates.

Estimated Cost Over Ten Years: $200 Million

Learning Environments

  • Enrich student learning environments through enhanced residential experiences and greater investment in student support services.

This should further accelerate our progress in achieving even higher retention and graduation rates.

Estimated Cost Over Ten Years: $100 Million

Facilities Needs

  • Renovate facilities and develop replacement facilities designed to support programs.

While our guiding principle will continue to be limited development of new net square footage, it is clear that replacement with more functional space will be essential to support current and anticipated activities.

Estimated Cost Over Ten Years: $1.5 Billion

Generation of New Resources

  • Generate new resources through reallocation, savings, and new sources of revenue.

Estimated Resource Generation Over Ten Years: $2.1 billion

We are not assuming that funding to support these initiatives will be provided through increased state subsidies. Instead, Ohio State is committed to generating the necessary incremental resources for improvement through a variety of approaches, including the identification of savings, redirections of existing funds, and innovative development of new funding sources.

To implement these plans, the following investments have been made for the 2012-2013 academic year:

Student Scholarships. An incremental $50 million has been set aside for student scholarships, supported primarily from cost savings and other incremental funds generated over four years.

Student Experience Enhancement. An incremental $2 million has been allocated for student residential and learning environment improvements funded from new affinity revenue.

Faculty Recruitment. An incremental $10 million will be allocated to faculty recruitment, primarily from redirection of existing allocations.

Facilities. An incremental $10 million will be committed for facilities improvements, all from affinity agreements and non-state sources.

Providing for specific investments in students, faculty, and the infrastructure that supports their efforts will lead the way to consistent recognition for true eminence. More importantly, this commitment will ensure that Ohio State accomplishes its mission, brings life to its vision, and fulfills a role that is essential to society.

Expanding the Reach of Our Faculty into the Community

I am delighted that Valerie Lee, our vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, agreed in March to take on the additional role of vice president for outreach and engagement. Though the Offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Outreach and Engagement will remain separate, because of their overlapping mission of access and inclusion, Valerie’s leadership of both units will allow them to expand networks and pool resources. And that will provide a more effective connection between our faculty and students and the external constituents and communities that outreach partnerships and engaged scholarship are meant to serve.

Valerie has served as our vice provost for diversity and inclusion since 2010. In that role, she is responsible for managing the educational pathways and outreach programs for nine Ohio urban school districts and promoting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students. She also oversees the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and the Frank W. Hale, Jr., Black Cultural Center.

Her commitment to Ohio State dates back to 1991, when she became a faculty member in our Department of English. Since then, she has developed a national reputation as a scholar and an administrator, serving this institution as chair of two departments—Women’s Studies (today, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) and English—and spearheading numerous university-level initiatives.

As Valerie now steps to the helm of the Office of Outreach and Engagement with its mandate to forge collaborations with community partners in education, business, and public and social service, Ohio State’s reach into the community will continue to build.