Drake cites ‘unprecedented and measurable momentum’ in University Address
Ohio State’s 150th year sees institution well-positioned for continued success
In what is expected to be his final State of the University Address, Ohio State President Michael V. Drake spoke of a university moving forward with unprecedented momentum.
Drake delivered the speech Thursday in the Ohio Union. The 15th president in university history announced in November that he plans to transition away from the president’s office to a faculty position at the end of the academic year. He spent little time addressing that decision, instead focusing on how Ohio State is well-positioned for continued success and the possibilities of the future.
“This year marks our 150th as a university community. Our sesquicentennial gives us the opportunity to celebrate what we have accomplished together — and all that is yet to come,” he said.
The university’s Time and Change strategic plan, launched in 2017, set several long-term goals aimed at strengthening Ohio State’s position as a leading national flagship public research university, and Drake said there is concrete proof the plan is already exceeding expectations.
“One is that more of our students are graduating on time and with less debt. Another is that we’re doing more research than we’ve ever done before. We’re seeing more patients with better outcomes and higher satisfaction,” he said. “And we’re playing a key role in stimulating Ohio’s innovation economy and helping to change lives for the better.”
Drake made increased college affordability one of the cornerstones of his term as president. He announced the university’s commitment to that effort has reached a milestone.
“I am delighted to report that, by this summer, we will have committed $200 million in additional need-based aid for students and families — twice the goal of $100 million we set five years ago,” he said.
He pointed to three recent programs that helped support Ohio State’s affordability goals: The Buckeye Opportunity Program covers the full cost of tuition and fees for Pell-eligible students from Ohio; the President’s Affordability Grants program benefits about 15,000 low- and moderate-income students annually; and the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee freezes in-state tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board for four years.
In addition to the record student financial support, Drake pointed to some of the highlights from the past year:
- The incoming class was the best prepared and most diverse in history with an average ACT score that increased to 29.5.
- The university’s six-year graduation rate is nearly 86% — an all-time high – and the four-year rate of 67% is up 8.5 percentage points since 2015.
- Ohio State reported a record-breaking year for research with $929 million in research expenditures, including $158 million in industry-sponsored research.
- Total research awards for the Wexner Medical Center and the health sciences colleges set a new record at over $325 million in funding.
- Ohio State was recognized nationally by U.S. News & World Report for undergraduate teaching, ranked as No. 7 among public universities, and online bachelor’s programs were ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Drake called on the university to maintain the momentum, noting the launch of the ambitious Time and Change: The Ohio State Campaign. The community-building and fundraising effort seeks to engage 1 million supporters – a goal that would be a record in higher education.
He also said the long-term vision for the university’s physical campus would position Ohio State as the university of the future. Major projects currently under construction include the new Arts District and the development of an innovation district on Ohio State’s West Campus.
As Drake concludes his sixth year as president of Ohio State and more than 40 years in higher education, he reflected on the importance of universities and their place in the community.
“We strive to be champions for people and their potential in everything we do. When we are at our best, we create meaningful impact for communities in our state, nation and around the globe,” he said. “It has been a privilege of a lifetime to serve in this endeavor with all of you. I look forward to continuing our incredible momentum as the years roll.”