Ohio State is beginning the search for its next president. Here's what we know

Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson speaks during spring commencement at the Ohio Stadium last year.
Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson speaks during spring commencement at the Ohio Stadium last year.

Almost three months after outgoing Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson announced she would resign at the end of this academic year, the university's trustees shared their plan Friday for how it will select OSU's next leader.

The university has hired Education Executives, a Santa Barbara, Califorina-based external search firm, to lead the search.

Ohio State's Board of Trustees will also form a Presidential Search Committee, which will include two subcommittees: the Presidential Selection Subcommittee — which will be solely comprised of trustees — and the University Advisory Subcommittee, made up of faculty, staff and students. The subcommittees will work together to identify a candidate who the Presidential Search Committee will ultimately recommend to the board.

The Presidential Selection Subcommittee will also manage the work of Education Executives in the search.

Who will be a part of the search committees for Ohio State's next president?

Hiroyuki Fujita, chair of the board of trustees, will head the Presidential Search Committee.

“The strength and momentum of Ohio State and its collective leadership team, which will help guide the university during this transition, make us highly confident that we will be able to attract a truly outstanding next president,” Fujita said.

Trustees joining Fujita on the Presidential Selection Subcommittee are Jeff M.S. Kaplan, Elizabeth Kessler, Tom B. Mitevski, Lewis Von Thaer, Reginald A. Wilkinson and John Zeiger.

The University Advisory Subcommittee will be co-chaired by Jan Box-Steffensmeier, Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and a professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Phillip Popovich, Ray W. Poppleton Research Designated Chair in the Department of Neuroscience in the College of Medicine.

Additional members of the University Advisory Subcommittee include:

  • Martha Belury, professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology

  • Carol R. Bradford, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for health sciences of the Wexner Medical Center

  • Molly Ranz Calhoun, president and CEO of the Ohio State University Alumni Association

  • Jorge E. Clavo Abbass, president of the Council of Graduate Students

  • Michael C. Eicher, senior vice president for advancement and president of the Ohio State University Foundation

  • Isil Erel, professor and chair in the Fisher College of Business

  • Russell Hassan, professor and chair in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs

  • Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering

  • Michael Ibrahim, director of the School of Music

  • Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

  • Scott Levi, professor and chair of the Department of History

  • Anthony Long, president of the Inter-Professional Council

  • Andrew Pierce, Undergraduate Student Government president

  • Paul Rose, associate dean for strategic initiatives of the Moritz College of Law

  • Taylor A. Schwein, graduate student trustee

  • Gene Smith, senior vice president of the Department of Athletics

  • Laurel Van Dromme, chair of the University Staff Advisory Committee

The Presidential Selection Subcommittee will soon share ways how the greater campus community can participate in the search process.

“Our dedication to advancing Ohio State’s standing as one of the nation’s premier public universities remains unchanged — as does our commitment to being a leader in affordability and student support, faculty retention and hiring, innovative research and excellence in patient care,” Fujita said.

When does Ohio State plan to announce its next president?

University spokesman Ben Johnson said there is currently no timeline for the trustees to select Ohio State's next president.

Ohio State's last presidential search, which began after former President Michael V. Drake announced in November 2019 his plans to retire, took about six months.

The university hired the search firm Isaacson, Miller in January 2020, held several public forums for the campus community that February, and officially announced Johnson as its next president on June 4, 2020.

Why is Ohio State searching for its next president?

Johnson shocked the Ohio State community when she confirmed her plans to step down as president just halfway through her contract. Since her resignation, Johnson and the university have shared little with the public about what really happened.

The Dispatch recently reported some of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that led to her resignation was rooted in a power struggle between Johnson and Les Wexner.

Sources close to the president said Johnson decided she could no longer work with Les Wexner and certain trustees who are loyal to him and push for his interests. The apparent power struggle culminated last summer, when Wexner and Certain members of the board sought to wrestle some control of the Ohio State University Medical Center away from the president, sources close to Johnson told The Dispatch.

Community sources defending Wexner, however, said Johnson’s resignation centered on complaints made in the course of her annual review by her executive team about the president’s hostility and lack of transparency. The sources said some trustees were upset with Johnson over a number of different issues in the past two years, none of which were the sole reason for her resignation.

Sheridan Hendrix is a higher education reporter for The Columbus Dispatch. Sign up for her Mobile Newsroom newsletter here and Extra Credit, her education newsletter, here.



This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Here's what we know about the search for Ohio State's next president