News from Ohio State University

Ohio State continues to focus on student success, faculty excellence

As spring commencement approaches, The Ohio State University continues to promote student success and faculty excellence, President Kristina M. Johnson and Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa Gilliam said during the State of Academic Affairs address last week.

“Ohio State’s excellence is growing, and that’s in no small part because of all of your efforts and also the leadership of Provost Gilliam, which has been critical to our progress since she joined us in August of 2021,” Johnson said during a March 23 meeting of the University Senate before Gilliam’s remarks.

Ohio State’s direction in the years to come will be guided by the university’s Academic Plan, Gilliam said.

Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa Gilliam“Our goal is to continue to advance the academic eminence of Ohio State,” she said. “We’ve developed a highly collaborative process working across all of our offices, because issues that affect students are not independent of faculty, and none of it is independent of issues of talent and inclusion. This is an interconnected and highly collaborative approach.”

Ohio State is increasing access and affordability for students through platforms such as Ohio State’s Scarlet & Gray Advantage initiative aimed at reducing student debt, Gilliam said. As part of its work in optimizing student financial aid, the university is also expanding its ScholarshipUniverse platform to all colleges.

“This is going to allow students to have much more access and much more information about scholarships and opportunities,” she said, “and also to write fewer applications in order to take advantage of them.”

The university is also implementing a series of recommendations from a workgroup on the graduate student experience, Gilliam said.

“The recommendations were around health insurance, enhancing the emergency fund and more support for dissertation completion,” she said. “And for the first time in nine years, we will deploy the graduate student experience survey, so lots of progress and lots of news to come. We also created a fellowship pilot program, improving the fellowship program, so larger grants are given to students more quickly.”  

Expanding professional development and advancement opportunities for faculty is also a priority, Gilliam said. Under the leadership of Patrick Louchouarn, senior vice provost for faculty, the university is developing a robust faculty support network.

“There’s a lot of partnering with the colleges as we think about developing and ensuring that all faculty have access to great development programs,” she said. “We’ve started a number of programs with the idea of thinking about the faculty life cycle and how we can, from the time the faculty is recruited to the time that they’re here, how we can support them across the life cycle.”

A new program, the Provost’s Early Career Scholars, promotes interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty, Gilliam said.

“We are in the process of recruiting our next cohort,” she said. “This will have, one, the opportunity to help these scholars accelerate their careers, but also enhance our teaching and learning and our interdisciplinary approach.”

The university has also created a workgroup to support current and future activities with JobsOhio, a state program that promotes innovation and job creation, Gilliam said.

“This really gives us an opportunity to continue to accelerate our steps toward success, as well as providing faculty start-up support through our current JobsOhio grants, which have both academic components and research components,” she said, “but also continuing to think about where the future opportunities for this tremendous partnership lie.”

Sustainability and operational excellence continue to be front and center, and efforts underway include and reestablishing the Office of Academic Affairs’ Institutional Research and Planning unit, Gilliam said.

“This is an opportunity to have leadership, vision, strategic direction and data-informed decision-making,” she said.

Ohio State can continue to make a positive local, state and global impact by strengthening its community partnerships, Gilliam said.

“There are many, many opportunities here, but one is to really lift up the work of our community-engaged research,” she said. “This is such an important aspect of what we do on this campus, and it is such an important aspect of our service and land-grant missions.”