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University community offers ideas for qualities of next president

Presidential Search Committee hosts forum to gather feedback

Emotional intelligence. Inspirational. A cultural fit. Those are some of the qualities members of The Ohio State University community want in the next leader of the university.

About 30 faculty and staff members attended one of a series of public forums to solicit feedback on the qualities, skills, attributes and experiences desired in a candidate to become the 16th president at Ohio State. Presidential Search Committee chair and trustee Lewis Von Thaer and faculty member and co-chair of the University Advisory Subcommittee Susan Olesik led the forum at Thompson Library on Friday.

Von Thaer said the next president would lead not only an academic institution with more than 60,000 students but also a world-class athletics department, a major philanthropic organization and growing health care enterprise.

“This person, in addition to being a teacher and managing the university, has many responsibilities for what is equivalent today of a $7 billion business,” he said. “So when we look at the type of person we are looking for, you can imagine the types of challenges this job has.”

Olesik asked the forum participants what they want to see in a leader to keep Ohio State moving forward. Participants said they want the next president to support the mental well-being of students and to make sure Ohio State is preparing students for the workforce and continuing to advance access and affordability.

“One of the things I would like to see our next president do is essentially be a champion of affordable learning. I know President Drake has done a really great job of making sure our institution is affordable not just to those who can afford it but also marginalized populations,” said Jasmine Roberts, lecturer in the School of Communication.

“I would hope that the president could continue to make strides in equity, diversity and inclusion,” added Allison Armstrong, associate director for research and education at University Libraries.

Von Thaer said the goal is to announce a new president before the start of the new academic year, but said the committee would not settle for a substandard candidate to meet that timeline.

Additional forums include:

  • Thursday, February 20, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Mansfield campus in 476 Ovalwood Hall, 1760 University Drive
  • Tuesday, February 25, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. at the Lima campus in Room 140 in the Perry Webb Student Life Building, 4240 Campus Drive
  • Wednesday, February 26, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Newark campus in 53 Hopewell Hall, 1179 University Drive

These opportunities join a pair of online engagement features designed to collect input from across the university and the broader community. Throughout the presidential search process, community members are encouraged to provide input and comments on the qualities and experiences recommended in a candidate and to submit candidate nominations. More information is available on the presidential search website.

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