17:59 PM

Reflections of a First-Year Buckeye: Thanksgiving wishes, campus safety, accolades

President Johnson honors a Buckeye legend

President Kristina M. Johnson sent the following email to The Ohio State University community today (Nov. 24).

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

We are entering the final weeks of an unusual autumn semester in which we have met and overcome many challenges. We have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday.

I am grateful for all of you and the opportunity to be a part of this incredible Ohio State family. Thank you to all our Buckeyes serving on the front lines of this pandemic, our support staff helping to keep our campuses safe and healthy, and everyone who has worked so hard to ensure that learning, teaching and discovery continue.

While we can’t travel and gather like we typically would this Thanksgiving, let’s all take time to recharge and reflect on the many good things in our lives that we have to celebrate.

Below are several updates prior to the holiday. 

Discovery, learning and impact

Ohio State senior and Dublin, Ohio, native Daniel Lesman has been named a 2021 Rhodes Scholar. He is the ninth Buckeye in our history to receive this honor. The Rhodes Trust selected him for his work to provide educational resources to homeless and at-risk students, as well as his biomedical research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease and COVID-19. Buckeyes have now been named Rhodes Scholars for three consecutive years.

Eleven Ohio State investigators in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine have been named to the 2020 class of Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each year, AAAS recognizes scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Fellows are elected by their peers.

Last week, our BuckeyeThon students held their second dance marathon of 2020 -- virtually this time -- and announced more than $2 million was raised over the two events to support children being treated in the Hematology, Oncology, Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The dedication of Buckeyes and the generosity of our community are remarkable. Thank you to all who participated!

Congratulations also go to members of our Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter (ACM-W). The student organization won a grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund to improve diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. As part of their proposal, ACM-W members will work with schools in the area and College Mentors for Kids to distribute computer science starter kits to upper-elementary and early middle-school-aged children. The program also includes a mentoring component for participating students.

We were excited to take the next step in the development of the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center located within the West Campus Innovation District. The center will be a hub for students, faculty, alumni, entrepreneurs and community partners to work together on the next generation of convergent research in smart energy systems, renewable energy and green mobility solutions.

COVID-19 updates

We are grateful for the extraordinary effort of our students and university testing team throughout the autumn semester. Last week, the university conducted more than 21,000 tests before students went home to complete their classes virtually prior to the winter break. Our support goes to all students who are in quarantine or isolation due to their exposure to or positive test for COVID-19. They are helping to keep us all safe. Our team in the Office of Student Life is providing support resources, and I will be connecting with some of these Buckeyes soon in my Pop-Ins with the Prez.

Wherever you are in our worldwide Ohio State community, please be safe and follow our Safe and Healthy Buckeyes requirements. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, practice good hygiene and avoid gatherings. The decisions we make now will determine our ability to go back to doing the things we love both on our campuses and off them.

University Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being

Our safety and well-being task force presented its recommendations last week to the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs, Student Life and Research Committee. As you know, this group was established in October following the tragic death of student Chase Meola to review and suggest improvements to communication, engagement and support of residents on campus and in the near-campus neighborhoods. Please see the full list of recommendations.

The task force will now identify specific dates and funding needs along with implementation teams. The initial launch phase for the recommendations will begin in December.

We have no greater responsibility as a university than enhancing the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. The work of the task force continues. I encourage everyone to review the existing safety resources available through the university on the task force website.

Also last week, the board approved our recommendation to grant Chase Meola a posthumous degree -- a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration -- at spring commencement in May.

Racial justice, diversity and inclusion

As our Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities continues its work, leaders from across the university are shining a light on important issues within the broader community.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) recently launched a Working Group on Race and Stratification in the Economy to explore, document and disseminate research on the causes and consequences of racial disparities in economic outcomes. Ohio State’s Dr. Trevon Logan, NBER research associate and professor of economics, will serve as inaugural director.

Additionally, Dr. Amy Fairchild, dean of the College of Public Health, recently joined Dr. RaShall Brackney, chief of police for Charlottesville, Virginia, for a webinar titled “The Bruising of America: When Black, White and Blue Collide.” Watch the discussion on the College of Public Health website. It was the first entry in the Changing the Conversation: Dean’s Public Health Thought Leader Series -- and a collaboration between the Ohio State Department of Public Safety, Office of Outreach and Engagement, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Columbus Public Health, Franklin County Public Health and the Ross County Health District.

Saying goodbye to a Buckeye legend

Finally this week, we were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Willie Young Sr., a mainstay of our Office of Student Life and a passionate advocate for our larger Buckeye community. He joined our university in 1990 and for many years served as senior director of the

Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services Office. Vice President of Student Life Dr. Melissa Shivers described him as “a Buckeye legend, a trusted friend, advisor to many and advocate for all students. Willie leaves a true legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Please join me in echoing these words and sending our sympathies and support to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.

My gratitude goes to all Buckeyes working to make our communities and our world a better place. Thank you and be well.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD


Share this