President Drake discusses strategic plan, staff concerns at forum
Questions about The Ohio State University strategic plan, the importance of diversity and the future of the Wexner Medical Center dominated a conversation with President Michael V. Drake today.
The University Staff Advisory Committee hosted Drake at the Ohio Union for a conversation about issues critical to staff. Moderator Tom Gessells, director of information technology for the OSU Health Plan, opened with a question about the university’s new strategic plan.
Drake said the goal of the strategic plan was to build on the progress the university was making and focus on areas where Ohio State could see transformational improvement.
“Can we make tomorrow even better than we were thinking yesterday might have been?” Drake asked. “So the reason for a strategic plan is saying we’ve done a pretty darn good job of being a much better university than we were 10 years ago. Who might we be 10 years from now and what difference might that make?”
Drake pointed to several recent high points for Ohio State, including record fundraising, improvement in graduation rates and faculty success in securing funding for research.
“How do you see staff playing a role in the strategic plan?” Gessells asked.
Drake said stewardship of the university’s resources, through building best practices and eliminating waste, was one of the best ways for staff to support the plan.
He said improved efficiency in university operations allowed Ohio State to expand scholarships, including doubling the Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship and covering the full cost of tuition for in-state student who qualify for Pell Grants. Drake said it also allowed for a one-time bonus to more than 15,000 staff members this year. Because of the size of the university, modest changes across Ohio State can have a big impact, he said.
The strategic plan pillar focused on operational excellence and resource stewardship does not call for a “massive improvement in our efficiency. It’s small improvement in our efficacy on a daily basis,” Drake said.
When asked about improving diversity and inclusion at Ohio State, Drake pointed out that those issues continue to be a concern for the nation at large.
“The most important thing for us to do as workers at this university is to do a good job in our jobs,” he said. “And then in doing that good job, be inclusive and thoughtful in your personal life. Think of ways that you can bring people from diverse backgrounds into your community and help them thrive.”
Drake spoke about the need for Ohio State to reduce pay inequality and pointed out the university continues to improve in this area.
“We are better in gender pay equity issues than the national average, better than Franklin County and the city of Columbus. But we still have a gender pay equity gap and we need to push on and get that down to nothing,” he said.
The president addressed plans to develop a new hospital and ambulatory center at the Wexner Medical Center complex. Drake noted the College of Medicine and the medical center are part of the core mission of the university, but running a hospital comes with a moral responsibility.
“Once you decide you’re in the business of managing a hospital, of offering clinical care, you have to do the very, very best you can,” he said.
The new infrastructure development will continue to keep the university at the cutting edge of medical research and patient care, he said.