For the past 25 years, I have had the pleasure of serving on the Ohio State faculty, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the College of Arts and Sciences as your interim executive dean and vice provost after four years as divisional dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The College of Arts and Sciences, home to 38 departments, forms the academic core of The Ohio State University and offers an innovative liberal arts education to more than 16,000 undergraduate students. Through prestigious internationally recognized research, transformative pedagogies, and engaged scholarship, the College of Arts and Sciences sustains a remarkable intellectual diversity. With 15 departments ranking in the Top 25 nationally, the stories of how we are pushing the boundaries of disciplines and creating rigorous approaches to some of the most challenging problems of our society cannot be captured through numbers alone. The following snapshots give a fuller sense of the diverse intellectual excellence across the College of Arts and Sciences.
Our college is an amazing community that equips the next generation of artists, scholars and scientists for career and professional success. The college also serves as a hub for the whole of Ohio State. We are charting the course for groundbreaking research, innovative teaching, and general education — as we prepare our students from colleges and majors across campus to find success in their fields.
Looking toward the year ahead, we will leverage our diversity, tout our inclusiveness, and celebrate our excellence, because our faculty, staff, and students are generating knowledge that changes the world — with the support of alumni and friends around the globe.
Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier
Interim Executive Dean and Vice Provost, College of Arts and Sciences
Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science
Read recent excellence messages shared by the interim executive dean and other Arts and Sciences leaders with college faculty and staff:
The College of Arts and Sciences is often called the academic heart of Ohio State. This isn’t just because of our size. It’s because this is where arts, humanities, and natural, mathematical, social and behavioral sciences can converge in unique and unexpected ways. When we combine different perspectives and expertise, we can better investigate critical problems through creative and scholarly inquiry, engage the public in reciprocal community collaborations, and deliver an exceptional education for Ohio State students.
While Ohio State’s campus is teeming with knowledge and education opportunities, it’s no secret there are endless avenues to learning outside of the traditional classroom. Our students study abroad and conduct field work on every continent, have access to internship experiences at any scale, contribute to leading-edge research and scholarship, and participate in service-learning that makes a difference in our communities.
This past summer, Arts and Sciences students went around the world, conducting research, interning and volunteering. They were immersed in politics, knee-deep in research and data analysis, underwater studying coral reefs and everywhere in between.
The College of Arts and Sciences remains committed to excellence, which includes building a diverse community. When entering our classrooms and learning spaces, students expect a world-class educational experience inclusive of a broad range of ideas, backgrounds and experiences, and we must deliver.
Universities are central places where people of all backgrounds, experiences and circumstances come together to learn and grow from deliberating, discussing and sharing ideas. We occupy a unique space in society by preparing students to learn and engage with one another to address and solve complex problems through shared knowledge. Our diversity is our strength. The College of Arts and Sciences remains steadfast to recruiting and retaining diverse, world-class scholars who enrich our classrooms and learning spaces, and the college will continue to pursue inclusive excellence, which simply makes us better.
Our students, faculty and staff should understand that we are committed to our diversity and inclusion priorities, and we will continue to institute and uphold practices and programs that increase and enrich our academic community. The college, in partnership with advocates across the university, will lead in devising solutions that make us stronger as an inclusive institution.
Working toward a better future through partnership is all part of the plan of the Collaboration for Humane Technologies, a network of artists, scholars and researchers exploring the interplay between physical and virtual experience. A cross-disciplinary roster of some of the innovative thinkers in their respective fields, Humane Technologies draws from the Departments of Design, Dance and ACCAD (Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design), the Champion Intergenerational Center and are joined by students, alumni and contributing faculty from Music, Theatre, Engineering, Architecture, Spanish and Portuguese, English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Nursing, Medicine and Social Work.
Together they create cutting-edge games, virtual reality experiences, interactive installations, animations, data visualizations, objects, performances and more. Setting their sights on projects as wide-ranging as robotics for assisted living; simulations to improve empathy in dementia care; games for wellbeing; stress reduction through mindfulness in virtual reality; and data humanism. The projects are powered by collaboration and innovation designed to help build a more livable future for us all.
For more than 60 years, the Ross Mathematics Program — an intensive, six-week summer program focusing on mathematical thinking — has inspired high school students around the world and promoted the notion of pursing math and related fields of study. The program was founded by renowned mathematician and former chair of Ohio State’s Department of Mathematics, Arnold Ross. Held annually in Columbus, as well as in Asia since 2016, the Ross Mathematics Program demonstrates how to work with abstract concepts, teaches number theory and nurtures independent thought.
Be the Street, a Humanities and the Arts Discovery Theme project, brings residents of one of Columbus’ most diverse neighborhoods together with faculty and students from theatre, dance, folklore studies and Spanish and Portuguese. By collaborating with immigrant communities in the Hilltop area, the Be the Street team creates performances that tell stories of connectedness and belonging. Partnering with local nonprofits and organizations, Be the Street hosts workshops and after-school programs designed to engage with community members and highlight their life stories.
The Ohio State Aphasia Initiative, in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, is a free program for those in the community living with aphasia, a language disorder that hinders a person’s ability to process language and communicate verbally. Through the Aphasia Initiative, those afflicted with aphasia have a space to come together and participate in structured group sessions that encourage and progress functional communication skills. Sessions are coordinated and guided by both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in speech and hearing science, and are supervised by a licensed, certified speech-language pathologist.
In every area of the Arts and Sciences, our innovative faculty, students and collaborators worldwide are exploring existing and emerging global challenges. Their game-changing discoveries profoundly affect our lives and are funded by all major federal and state granting agencies, with additional support from business, industry and private foundations. The college champions creative scholarship and performance, and promotes an environment for students and faculty to inspire, discover and create on campus and beyond.
The development of a new Arts District includes long-term plans to open Ohio State’s front door to the heart of the University District at 15th Avenue and High Street. The project, encompassing areas of campus between 15th and 18th Avenues, envisions high-quality, modern learning environments for interaction across arts disciplines. Included are new facilities for the School of Music and Department of Theatre, which will feature a home for the new Moving Image Production program. The Arts District is part of Framework 2.0, a plan for the physical environment of the Columbus campus guided and informed by Ohio State’s Time and Change strategic plan.
A 24-foot dinosaur skeleton, molded from a fossil discovered by Ohio State professor David Elliot, now stands guard in Orton Hall's lobby. The Cryolophosaurus provides valuable evolutionary insight to scientists and will increase enthusiasm and support for the museum exponentially, according to curators. To bring Cryolophosaurus to campus, the team at Orton raised the necessary funds through a crowdfunding campaign that drew donors from all over the world. The installation will be part of a larger renovation that plans to incorporate technology into the museum’s other exciting exhibits.
Located at the corner of 12th and Neil Ave. in the revived Mirror Lake District, Pomerene Hall has long been a storied and iconic feature of campus. Built in 1922, the hall originally served as a women’s student union, complete with a gymnasium and a swimming pool. In recent years the building saw little use for its size, but a major $60 million, state-funded renovation has revived Pomerene’s history and integrity, as well as provided a home for the Department of History of Art, the Undergraduate Data Analytics Major and Ohio State’s Translational Data Analytics Institute.
The Gary and Connie Sharpe Innovation Commons is a space dedicated to exploration, innovation and collaboration within the Department of Geography. Located in Derby Hall, the Innovation Commons includes state-of-the-art technology for broadcast recording, breakout space for collaboration and integrated equipment to engage with colleagues across universities. The commons’ next phase of development will implement dedicated processors, 3D printers and a collaboration space to bring different areas of geography together. The Innovation Commons is made possible thanks to a generous donation from Gary (BA, geography, 1970) and Connie (BS, nursing, 1969) Sharpe.
The Arts and Sciences Center for Career and Professional Success meets the evolving needs of students, ensuring they have every opportunity to gain career clarity and connections within an ever-changing employment landscape. Students are invited to join various Career Communities, each of which offers unique resources based around a particular industry. An expanded staff is dedicated to establishing industry partners, recruitment activity and micro-learning experiences, while a Match 50 Mentorship Program connects current students with Arts and Sciences alumni.
One of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s primary facilities, Celeste Laboratory, is set to undergo a proposed $30 million renovation. As a facility that provides instructional and research space for approximately 10,000 students per year, Celeste’s upgrade will have a significant impact on all students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The labs provide hands-on experience to complement classroom instruction, creating more well-rounded students who will go on to be leaders in science, health and medicine and engineering.