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Recently tenured professors recognized, new faculty welcomed

Campus events celebrated educators’ achievements

With the start of the fall semester fast approaching, Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson and Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa Gilliam welcomed new faculty and congratulated those who have recently received tenure at events held Aug. 17-18 on the Columbus campus. The Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) presented both events at the Ohio Union.

The inaugural Promotion and Tenure Achievement Conference on Aug. 18 provided information on the resources that Ohio State offers to help faculty to continue to develop their careers and personal interests.

“Think about how you can use this platform to do really interesting things,” Johnson said during a reception for the newly tenured faculty. “Use it as a platform to serve others, because we are at a public land-grant university. Service is something that is so rewarding, and I know all of you do that.”

Tenure also offers opportunities for faculty to explore academic areas of interest that they might not have previously considered and to forge relationships with colleagues in other colleges, Gilliam said.

“Congratulations to you and to all of your deans and colleagues and department chairs. They’ve all done so much to help bring you to this point,” Gilliam said. “This really means that your colleagues have recognized your excellence and they’re convinced of your potential.”

In her keynote address at the Promotion and Tenure Achievement Conference, Treva Lindsey, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research can lead to innovation.

“I really started to think about my teaching, my course development in different kinds of ways that wasn’t just about the content and ‘am I exciting or interesting as a teacher,’ but am I building a learning community in my classroom?” Lindsey said. “That really allowed me to be refreshed and recharged around teaching in a different kind of way.”

In a panel discussion moderated by Ryan Schmiesing, OAA senior vice provost for external engagement, campus leaders offered perspectives on the future of education.

Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering, said she’s looking forward to partnerships between Ohio’s higher education institutions and Intel, which is building two leading-edge chip factories in Licking County.

“With the Intel plant, we’re looking across curriculum that includes the College of Arts and Sciences, that includes business and engineering across the different disciplines,” she said, “because that is what’s needed in order to train students for the plant.”  

An increasing number of faculty members have joint appointments across several disciplines, which has led to collaborations that have expanded each field, said Amy Fairchild, dean of the College of Public Health.

“The field has really opened up to thinking about the politics of public health, to thinking about ethics, to thinking about history, really ensuring that students have a grasp of history,” she said. “Social equity has moved to the core in a way that’s very, very exciting.”

Ian Howat, director of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, said recently passed federal legislation will lead to new investments in environmental research and positive developments in the near future.

“As we start to invest a serious amount, I think we are the verge of some major breakthroughs in not just how we influence the climate, but in how we stay sustainable,” he said.

Lori Patton Davis, chair of the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Department of Educational Studies, said faculty who are early in their careers are exploring untapped areas of research.

“There is an entire crop of faculty members who are coming through the ranks and they’re asking more salient and critical questions,” she said. “There is this robust opportunity to really think about higher education differently.”  

The Aug. 17 new faculty orientation event offered an opportunity for educators who are new to Ohio State to network and share ideas.

In a panel discussion titled “Creating an Environment for Faculty Success” at Ohio State, Mollie Blackburn, faculty ombudsperson; Ben Givens, University Senate secretary; and Jan Neiger, assistant vice provost for academic human resources, spoke about the vast array of employee resources available on campus and online, such as the Employee Assistance Program. 

“It’s a wonderful resource – counseling, financial wellness, legal advice, creating a will, whatever it might be,” Neiger said.

Another panel discussion provided suggestions on how to support students in making the most of their education. The panel featured Charlene Gilbert, senior vice provost for student academic success; Norman Jones, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education; Mary Stromberger, vice provost and dean for graduate education; and Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza, graduate and professional student ombudsperson.

Key to students’ success is connecting with faculty and staff who can help them resolve academic and personal issues, panelists said.

“We have lots of people at the university who can solve it, if they know to ask somebody,” Jones said. “We have tons of great services for students at the university.”

Gilliam encouraged the faculty to access professional development resources such as the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning, but also to prioritize emotional and physical wellness.

“Make it a priority to find time for yourselves, for your lives, to try and maintain perspective,” she said. “If you take away nothing else from what I’ve said, please understand that your well-being will always be of top concern.”

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