08:51 AM

Ohio State to dedicate $400M to improve value of students’ education

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State University will dedicate at least $400 million over five years to lowering the cost and improving the value of students’ Ohio State education, President Michael V. Drake announced Tuesday.

In the first year, the plan will produce at least $15 million in affordability scholarships that directly reduce the need for student loans. Over five years, scholarship support for low- and middle-income students is expected to grow by at least $100 million.

President Michael V. Drake

Drake made the announcement in an investiture address following his formal installment as Ohio State’s 15th president. Continuing long-observed Ohio State tradition, Drake took the oath of office and was presented with the traditional Presidential Medallion of Office during the ceremony in Mershon Auditorium.

Attendees included hundreds of higher education and community leaders, faculty, staff and students. In honor of Drake’s investiture, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor proclaimed March 31 “Scarlet and Gray Day.”

The $400 million initiative Drake announced builds on Ohio State’s commitment to lead the way on issues of affordability and excellence in higher education. At least $200 million will be generated through administrative efficiencies, and another $200 million will be developed from innovative financing strategies that don’t rely on tuition or tax dollars.

Outlining his vision for the university’s future, Drake described the challenge ahead: upholding the excellence of an Ohio State degree without compromising access because of costs.

“Students crossing the Oval with book bags filled with knowledge and promise should not be burdened with the weight of worry about how to pay for college,” he said.

Drake emphasized two additional areas that underpin Ohio State’s overarching academic mission: further extending the university’s outreach with a specific emphasis on tackling food insecurity and celebrating diversity as a defining characteristic and source of strength.

Drake said providing an excellent and affordable education is a critical issue on the higher education landscape, and he is committed to helping solve “this elusive equation.”

“Gov. Kasich announced in February the creation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on affordability. We will seize this opportunity to advance bold ideas to work harder and smarter to contain costs – strategies such as better utilizing information and educational technology and implementing targeted constructive advising so that more students graduate on time. We look forward to working with our partners to lead this critical effort.”

In addition to reducing student debt through scholarship support, the dedicated funding will be invested in two other areas of the academic enterprise – fostering excellence in academic programs, including support for faculty and students, and inspiring faculty innovations that will create new areas of knowledge and elevate the student experience.

Focusing on the art and science of teaching will contribute to student success as well, Drake noted. He announced the creation of a universitywide institute on teaching and learning that will support both tenured and nontenured faculty.

Another cornerstone of Drake’s vision is re-committing to the university’s motto of Education for Citizenship to address the issue of food insecurity.

“We must work closely with our community and state partners, refining our collective strategies to elevate all members of our society. At the end of the day, all of us share a responsibility in the future of Ohio and the lives of our fellow citizens,” said Drake.

He announced a $15 million investment in the Discovery Themes initiative to hire new faculty experts to work on solutions to food insecurity. Combined with more than 50 faculty who currently work on these issues, Ohio State will commit nearly $100 million to search for solutions to the problem over the next decade.

To achieve the goal of becoming a national model of inclusiveness and diversity, Drake has aligned the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

“We have a number of successful programs and initiatives around diversity at the university – the Bell National Resource Center, our Multicultural Center and LASER program for Latino students – and we will amplify our efforts by working in greater coordination,” Drake said.

Other supporting initiatives include re-energizing faculty hiring practices by developing universitywide diversity training for search committees. In addition, he has charged a coalition of individuals from across the university to look broadly at diversity issues that affect students, faculty and staff and develop meaningful recommendations for how Ohio State can become a model of inclusive excellence.

Drake called on Ohio State colleagues to commit to “values-driven decision-making” in pursuit of the institution’s mission. He said the core values that guide him are respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, empathy, appreciation of others and fun.

“I have found that if you stay true to your values, then the path forward will be clear, if not always easy. And in the end, you’ll be in the right place.”