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Reflections of a First-Year Buckeye: Driving down CV19 rates, staffing the polls

Johnson reports on enrollment records, college visits, institutional accolades

In her weekly “Reflections of a First-Year Buckeye,” Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson reported progress in the campus commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and announced an effort to help with the expected shortage of poll workers for the November election.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: 

I have been reflecting on the commencement speech delivered here at Ohio State last spring by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who spoke of the unique challenges and opportunities we face in circumstances none of us imagined.

“Those who meet times of historical challenge with their eyes and hearts open — forever restless and forever striving — are also those who leave the greatest impact on the lives of others,” he said.

As we meet the dual challenges of ending racial inequities and slowing COVID-19, I am impressed every day by the spirit you all are showing.

With compassion and good will in your hearts, you are advancing anti-racist efforts through peaceful protest, dialogue and hard work.

With care for your fellow Buckeyes, you are driving down the positivity rate by doing your part and rigorously following our safe and healthy practices day in and day out. 

You are making a difference. Keep it up.

COVID-19 updates

Your commitment to safety is evident in the results of our testing program, which show that the seven-day average positivity rate for all students is 1.7% and has decreased nearly every day for 14 days.

Overall, we’ve conducted more than 86,000 tests, and the most recent 24-hour on-campus positivity rate was 0.8%. 

We remain focused on keeping our community safe and healthy. The university’s COVID-19 team continues to meet daily to improve and expand our processes and strategies -- and to adjust our guidelines accordingly. This week, the Office of Student Life shared that student organizations can once again resume holding gatherings of 10 or fewer people. You can read more about student organization gatherings here.

I Zoomed in again this week to check in on our students in quarantine and isolation, and I know you join me in sending them our love and support. 

Office hours and Instagram

Last week, I shared that I will be holding office hours for students each week. You can now sign up to be selected for 15-minute Zoom calls or in-person meetings at the Office of the President website. Also, you can now follow me on Instagram, and I look forward to connecting with you there, too. 

Poll workers program

As a new Ohioan, I recently registered to vote and encourage everyone to check their registration, register, or update their information online at www.voteohio.gov.

The voter registration deadline in Ohio is Monday, October 5. Voters can find their polling location at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. 

To help address the anticipated shortage of poll workers on election day due to COVID-19, the university is announcing a program in which Ohio State employees who serve as poll workers for the November 3 general election can now take a paid day off without using vacation time. Student employees and graduate associates are encouraged to work with their supervisors to arrange for time off to serve as a poll worker if their department can accommodate the absence.

You can read more about this opportunity and find election resources at the Office of Human Resources website.

Awards and recognitions

We were thrilled to share this week that the university has been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the long-term, longitudinal impact of COVID-19 on first responders, health care workers and the general population.

The award will fund the Center for Serological Testing to Improve Outcomes from Pandemic COVID-19 (STOP-COVID) at Ohio State, a new Serological Sciences Center of Excellence. Center co-investigators include 46 interdisciplinary team members throughout five colleges. You can read more here.

Also, faculty at Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology, the University of Florida, and the National Academy Foundation were awarded a nearly $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for their project, “Facilitating Pathways to Success for High-Achieving Pre-Collegiate African American Males in STEM.” For more, click here.

It is exciting to see our collective scholarship having an impact on the lives of so many -- and in so many positive ways.

Honored alumni

Our Alumni Association recognized nine outstanding Buckeyes in a virtual ceremony earlier this week -- including Dr. Amy Acton (MPH ’96), who earned the 2020 Alumni Medalist Award for her efforts to keep Ohioans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the highest honor awarded by our Alumni Association. Recipients were also recognized for their work across the decades to advance diversity and inclusion, citizenship, the unique Buckeye spirit and more.

To see a full list of awardees and read their stories, visit the Alumni Association website.

Next week, be on the lookout for a new way to keep our spirit going strong. Our Alumni Association is asking the entire Ohio State community -- students, alumni, faculty, staff, volunteers and supporters -- to shine a spotlight on a Buckeye they know who is changing the world. Follow the Alumni Association and share your stories on social media during #CelebratingBuckeyes week from Monday, September 28, to Friday, October 2.

We have so much to be proud of, especially each other. Let’s show our Buckeye pride.

College visits

My gratitude goes to so many of you in the College of Arts and Sciences and Fisher College of Business (pictured above) for your warm hospitality this past week. I enjoyed visiting these exceptional colleges and getting to know you better – and remain impressed by our university’s commitment to sharing knowledge and making new discoveries across disciplines.

I have also connected with students, faculty and staff at our College of Engineering and College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and I look forward to visiting all of our colleges in the coming weeks.

Finally, please know that your collective efforts are inspiring a whole new generation of Buckeyes. On Thursday, we reported record-high enrollment for first-year and minority students this academic year -- an accomplishment in any year much less one so challenging as this.

Thank you, and I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD


COVID-19 Resources

Wellness Resources

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