16:56 PM

Ohio State will commit $45 million to need-based student aid next academic year

State of the University address highlights many of the university’s historic successes

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake announced in his 2019 State of the University Address a commitment of more than $45 million to support efforts to make an excellent Ohio State education more accessible and affordable.

Drake spoke to students, faculty and staff in the U.S. Bank Theater in the Ohio Union on Thursday afternoon. His speech highlighted the university’s commitment to balancing the goals of access, affordability and excellence at Ohio State.

“The high value of an Ohio State education is well known in our community and across the nation,” he said. “I am happy to report that for the 2019-20 academic year, we are budgeting more than $45 million in support to students through our affordability grant program, expanded Land Grant Opportunity Scholarships and the Buckeye Opportunity Program.”

Drake said the investment means the university will have committed more than $150 million in additional need-based student aid since 2015. That exceeds the stated goal of $100 million in aid by 2020.

The funding is having an impact. Drake pointed to the success of the Buckeye Opportunity Program that covers any gap in the full cost of tuition and fees for Pell-eligible students from Ohio. In its first year of implementation, the program has helped 4,000 students across the state.

Drake also spoke about recent successes in implementing the university’s Time and Change strategic plan. One pillar of the plan demands the university continue as a leader in excellent teaching and learning.

One example: the new Teaching Support Program supported by the University Institute for Teaching and Learning. The program offers a financial incentive for instructors who voluntarily complete training focused on innovative teaching and course redesign. More than 2,000 faculty, Drake included, have completed at least one of the three parts of the program.

“I completed the program’s inventory a few months ago — and have applied what I learned to the freshman seminar I recently started teaching,” he said.

Drake co-teaches a class on “The Civil Rights Movement and the Supreme Court” with Moritz College of Law Dean Alan Michaels. Part of the support program inspired Drake and Michaels to revise how students in the class get to know their instructors and each other at the beginning of the semester.

The address further highlighted successes in research and creative expression. The president said the university’s annual external research funding is approaching $900 million – including $150 million in industry-sponsored research, moving Ohio State to third in the nation for this source of research funding.

He also noted a number of awards and recognitions for faculty research and scholarship, including a recent NASA mission, backed by Buckeye-fueled innovation, which drew international attention.

“Our research was on display over New Year’s as part of a NASA mission to explore the farthest reaches of our solar system,” he said. “Ohio State scientists helped design, construct and test the antenna that transmitted the images from Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever visited.”

The address emphasized the success and direction of the university’s focus on academic health care. The Wexner Medical Center was named among the nation’s Best Hospitals for the 26th consecutive year. Drake also discussed plans for a new hospital and ambulatory care centers.

The Wexner Medical Center recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with Mercy Health to provide patients with increased access to more than 600 points of care throughout the state. And the medical center and The James are collaborating with Nationwide Children’s Hospital on the region’s first proton therapy treatment facility to offer new options for families battling cancer.

Drake also used the speech to discuss the university’s trajectory as Ohio State approaches its 150th anniversary in 2020.

“I am pleased to report that many of our most significant indicators are once again at historic highs — and accelerating,” he said.

Highlights included:

  • A record 52,000 students applied for admission for the current academic year.
  • Ohio State admitted the best-prepared and most diverse class of incoming students in university history with an average ACT score of 29.3 and a 7.5 percent increase in first-year minority students.
  • The university’s first-year retention rate of 94.5 percent is the highest ever.
  • The four-year graduation rate, which has hit a new high, is up 6.1 percentage points since 2015.

Drake said all of these success help fulfill the founding mission of a university on the eve of a historic anniversary.

“What Ohio State does matters and will continue to matter to students, families, patients and communities across the country and around the world,” he said. “Together, we will take the next steps in our 150-year land-grant legacy. Together, we will define what it means to be a leading public research university in the 21st century.”