President Johnson outlines her vision for Ohio State with investiture address
Ceremony marks Johnson’s formal installation as the university’s 16th president
In her investiture address Friday, Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson reflected on the privilege of serving as president for the past 15 months and outlined her vision for a university that prioritizes access and affordability, faculty excellence, and groundbreaking research and innovation.
Johnson delivered her address to an audience of leaders from higher education, the state of Ohio and the university community at Mershon Auditorium.
“At my first State of the University speech last February, I said that I wanted to see Ohio State become the absolute model of a 21st century land-grant university. That means recommitting to our land-grant mission,” she said.
The centerpiece of the address was her announcement of the details behind Scarlet & Gray Advantage, a plan to offer a debt-free bachelor’s degree within a decade. The university will raise $800 million for student scholarships; expand job and internship programs that allow students to gain experience while earning a paycheck; provide grant assistance; and extend coaching on financial education, leadership and work skills, Johnson said.
“Given the pride and passion of Buckeye Nation, I see no reason for Ohio State to reach for anything but greatness,” she said.
Johnson said fully achieving greatness will require a strategic focus on excellence in five key areas:
- Talent and culture
- Research, scholarship, creative expression, entrepreneurship and partnerships
- Service to the state, the nation, and the world
- Resource management
Some of the proposals outlined in the address included expanding Ohio State Online to offer greater flexibility to current and future students continuing their education; hiring 350 new tenure-track faculty and retaining the best faculty currently at Ohio State; doubling research expenditures over the next 10 years and extending OSU Extension education beyond agriculture, into the fields of public health, engineering, business management, robotics and the arts.
Johnson’s leadership was praised by her academic peers and her vision for the university was supported by university and state leaders who shared greetings during the ceremony.
“The agenda includes an even stronger emphasis toward college affordability, increasing opportunity while reducing the pressures of student debt,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. “President Johnson, while our expectations are high, so is our confidence in your significant ability and leadership.”
Karla FC Holloway, James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University, also congratulated Johnson on her appointment to the presidency.
“On behalf of the institution’s faculty who will depend on both your common and uncommon sense, your imagination and your vision, and your thoughtful acknowledgment of when and where we enter this community, I thank President Johnson for the investment of her considerable talents,” Holloway said. “The faculty anticipates your meeting this opportunity with the integrity, grace, intelligence and wit that you have practiced throughout your professional career. And sincerely welcomes the shared enterprise and trust of the precious potential of The Ohio State University.”
Johnson said Ohio State has the capacity to address many of the obstacles holding Ohio and the nation back in areas such as public health, the environment, infrastructure, the commitment to democratic institutions and the economy. As a land-grant university, Ohio State has an obligation to address those barriers and to open new opportunities wherever possible, she said.
“By reaching for excellence in everything we do, and by organizing ourselves for effectiveness and influence, we are going to make Ohio State just what it should be: the greatest land-grant university of the 21st century.”