Let's take a moment to recognize a few stand-out accomplishments from the past year as we look forward to the new academic year

Sept. 20, 2017
U.S. Bank Conference Theater, Ohio Union

David C. Manderscheid
Executive Dean and Vice Provost

Good morning, welcome and thank you for coming! This is the third time we’ve come together to celebrate the new academic year. Each year I am moved by the energy that the start of autumn semester brings.

I am especially looking forward to this year — 2017-18 will be fantastic for our college. We are on a great path and, with the plans we have moving forward, we will see even more awards, accolades, major gifts and grants, and compelling stories of student success and innovative research and creative scholarship. This is all because of you, and your dedication and commitment — thank you! We have some of the best people in higher education in the College of Arts and Sciences — faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and friends — and I am honored to serve you.

Before I get started, I’d like to take a moment and welcome some new people to the college. 

Kim Kinsel joined the college on July 31 as our new Chief Administrative Officer. She oversees all Fiscal, HR and IT functions of the college. She came to us from Miami University where she was the associate vice president for auxiliaries since 2012. She suceeds John Nisbet who left earlier this year.           

Earlier this month, Brian Guerrero joined the college as our first Senior Director for Career and Professional Success. Brian came to us from UC Berkeley, where he served as the Senior Associate Director of their university-wide Career Center. I’ve charged Brian with integrating and strengthening departmental and college career services to help our students find the careers they want and to reinforce the value of an arts and sciences education.

Valarie Williams has shifted her duties and assumed the role of Associate Dean for Outreach and Engagement. She is working to build our community partnerships and to better align and organize our outreach and engagement efforts, including those related to community based research and learning.

When our Chief Advancement Officer accepted a position at Vanderbilt, we took the opportunity to review the structure of that position to better serve our college and increase our fundraising and alumni relations capacity.

Chris Delisio, who serves as an assistant vice president for development in the central Advancement office, has taken on the role of Chief Advancement Officer for Arts and Sciences, with a focus on strategy. He gives us a bridge to central advancement and brings new and fresh ideas each day.

Liz Burns, who has been with the college for several years, has been promoted to Executive Director, and will oversee day-to-day fundraising, stewardship and alumni relations operations. 

Images, names and titles of new chairs and directors

Perhaps one of the hardest jobs in the college is that of department chair or school director. I know, I was a chair for six years. You are on the frontline for almost everything.

I want to thank both our newest and all of our chairs and directors for agreeing to take on this important role. As I said, you are on the frontline, which can be difficult and also very rewarding — It is where you can have the biggest impact. If there are any new chairs here today, would you please stand?

Thank you for your service!

List of 45 new faculty
This year, 45 new tenured and tenure-track faculty joined the college — roughly the number that departed or retired. This is a tremendously diverse and accomplished class of faculty, and we are thrilled to have you join us. If any of you are here today, would you please stand?

Please join me in giving them a warm welcome to the College of Arts and Sciences. We wish you every success in your new positions.

Speaking of success … I want to take a moment to recognize a few stand-out accomplishments from the past year. Let’s take a look —

This is just a small sampling of the incredible work that our faculty, staff, and students are doing.

It is also important to recognize the fact that each achievement of these successful individuals and programs is supported by their faculty and staff colleagues. As a community we work hard together, and we support each other.

I experienced this last fall. Campus was on edge after the election and the attack of Nov. 28.

It was the day that then president-elect Trump was on campus to meet with some of the victims of the attack. The weather was bone-chilling cold. Yet a teach-in organized by faculty in the college filled the auditorium in the basement of University Hall to overflowing. 

The passion people showed for their teaching was loud and clear.

The passion for helping students learn true critical thinking skills was loud and clear.

The passion for helping each other as teachers navigate an important and traumatic time was loud and clear.

The commitment to our community was loud and clear. This is what our college is about and why I am so proud to serve and be a part of this community.

From this community, I have heard a call for a vision for where we are headed. For what we are to become. After all we are just seven years old as a college. Institutions and culture matter. What do we want to build?

For the past year, this has been a focus for me and my leadership team — to determine our priorities for an intentional path forward. This inspiring process may have an uninspiring name, strategic planning, but it is imperative for our continued strength and growth as a college.

Before we launched into planning, we sought your insights and were gratified by the interest shown across the college.

We began by issuing a broad survey to assess our strengths, along with our challenges — from your perspective — and we received more than 400 responses. Then we hosted more than 20 focus groups and workshops with nearly 200 participants.

Inclusive strategic planning is not easy — if it were, everyone would do it — but it is important for our college and our community, so that we can move forward together.

A part of my role as the dean of one of the largest colleges of arts and sciences in the country, and certainly one of the very best, is working with college deans and leadership from across the country. One thing that I have noticed is that colleges of arts and sciences often struggle with strategic planning.

Why is that? Colleges of Arts and Sciences are big, complex, and cover a lot of territory. Simple metrics for success such as grant dollars per FTE don’t work.

But we are successful — the achievements of our community illustrate that far better than metrics. And, we are headed in a very positive direction. We are seeing signs not only of stabilization, but growth in enrollments and in our share of credit hours. Challenges that we faced in past years, particularly in the area of budget, are behind us. We are confident that close management and priority-setting will allow us to emerge stronger. And that is what, in part, strategic planning is all about.

To continue our commitment to access, affordability and excellence we must effectively marshal and leverage our resources. Careful planning and intentional action are imperative to allow a continued focus on excellence.

This fundamental commitment has led our planning process, which we’ve aligned with the new university plan.

University Strategic Plan Pillars

If you haven’t had a chance to review the university plan, I encourage you to do so. The aspirations set forth will expand Ohio State’s overall excellence and impact in significant ways. The university’s plan is a living framework that points the Ohio State community toward bold ambitions, and in the Arts and Sciences, our own strategic plan provides us with a custom-built direction on how to get there.

ASC Strategic Plan Focus Areas

The college’s 2017-2022 plan is arranged around one overarching principle and 5 key focus areas, which we rolled out last year as our strategic roadmap. Using that roadmap as our starting point, we have refined and expanded these focus areas as the foundation for our new strategic plan.

Areas that we can improve upon to achieve “our best” — to achieve national recognition as a leader in teaching and learning, research and creative scholarship, and outreach and engagement.

Our overarching principle is that: Diversity and inclusion are essential components of excellence and must be a part of our strategic thinking in all areas. Expanding the diverse and inclusive nature of our community is the responsibility of everyone and that is why you will see it integrated throughout the plan.

Strategic Plan Focus Area 1: Excellent Faculty and Programs

I note that our five focus areas do not mirror the university’s five pillars — ours is a complementary plan that addresses the needs of our community. We recognize that our faculty and staff are THE most important feature of the College of Arts and Sciences and are the academic heart of Ohio State.

Having outstanding and well-supported faculty, staff and programs in the Arts and Sciences is essential to the advancement and reputation of the entire university.

It is intentional that the first goal of the first focus area is to build and maintain top programs. It is who we are, it is what we do.

This goal includes commitments such as: 

Making strategic investments in nationally-recognized programs and those with emerging reputations, while strengthening our disciplinary foundations.

Fostering interdisciplinary and collaborative research, creative activity and programs, and encouraging curricular innovation.

We must also be committed to fostering a diverse community. Last year we launched a new effort to support this with the SBS cluster hiring initiative and we plan to expand our efforts across the college. We MUST foster an inclusive environment to be able to recruit and retain the best faculty, staff and students. I am passionate about this — higher education will not remain relevant with our current demographics and without all of us being advocates and allies for creating an equitable and inclusive academic culture.

Research and creative scholarship — this is a key focus for us, balanced with teaching and learning. We continually strive to advance in both categories and are developing strategies for continued growth.

We plan on continuing to increase our research awards and expenditures through the investments made in the college research team and the grants support they offer. Both have increased markedly over the last few years. For example, last year we received $99.2 million in externally funded research awards. But this is only half the story. Much of the research and creative scholarship done in the college is not amenable to such limited measures as dollars generated. Thus an explicit part of this goal is support for those activities not measured by dollars.

A fourth goal is to Elevate teaching and learning. We must continually evaluate and revise our curriculum, and foster innovative programs and effective pedagogy – to give our students the best possible education and return on their investment of trust and dollars. We must continually strive to balance our responsibility to provide a top-notch, affordable education while also growing our research portfolio.

A fifth goal is to Build and enhance top graduate programs. We are committed to this, with particular emphasis on best practices, assessment and improvement with the shared goal of raising our academic reputation.

This is in part why I agreed to chair the search for our next Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School. This is a critical position for both the college AND the university. I encourage you to nominate your colleagues.

Excellent faculty and programs are fundamental to our college — it’s what we provide for our students and to the state, nation and world.

We also need to make sure that we are providing our students with everything they need for success and satisfaction in life.

Strategic Plan Focus Area 2: Access, Affordability and Student Success

Our second focus area is Access, Affordability and Student Success.

We must find ways to continue to make an excellent education affordable and accessible while improving undergraduate and graduate student success.

I mentioned earlier that we’re expanding our career services office. We are creating a Center for Career and Professional Development to provide more ways to enhance our students’ success — on campus and beyond.

We will find more ways to improve diversity through developing more student bridge programs and faculty cluster-hiring, among other initiatives. We are prepared to explore every approach and continue that exploration until our community demographics better reflect those of the broader Central Ohio community.

To improve success and expand access we also need to find ways to expand financial support for our undergraduate and graduate students. This is a win-win, it’s very important for our students and for us, to stay competitive. Fundraising for scholarships will be a large focus of the coming years.

We have more than 200,000 living alumni; we are hoping that we can better engage them to support our efforts in all of these areas — student success, careers and mentoring; engaging a broader community to improve access and diversity; and to give back and support scholarships for our students.

Strategic Plan Focus Area 3: Outreach and Engagement

This brings us to Outreach and Engagement, our third focus area. This topic is, and will continue to be, fundamental to the work we do at Ohio State. As a land-grant institution, we are committed to creating and supporting community collaborations and partnerships.

In the coming year, we will be developing a comprehensive strategy to better leverage our programming and urban location. We can do a far better job of increasing opportunities to engage with the public –  as mentors, advisors, connecters, employers, patrons, donors and friends.

The new Center for Career and Professional Success, in collaboration with our Advancement Team, will be working to build more bridges with potential employers that increase philanthropic connections, industry partnerships and internship and employment opportunities for our students.

It is not enough to build support and programming – we have the unique opportunity to be leaders. We must and will seize this opportunity.

Strategic Plan Focus Area 4: Leadership and Advocacy

Our fourth focus area is Leadership and Advocacy. This priority is one that I have never seen in a strategic plan. But I think it is essential for us.  We must be leaders in advocating for and articulating the enduring and practical value of a liberal arts education and majors and minors in the Arts and Sciences.

I’ll say it again …

We must be leaders in advocating for and articulating the enduring and practical value of a liberal arts education and majors and minors in the Arts and Sciences.

If we believe in what we are doing. If we believe in the OPPORTUNITY we are giving our students. If we believe an arts and sciences education is not a luxury, but often the best path to effect positive change in the world, then we must be its strongest, most persistent voice. 

We must own and advance our reputation – both the reputation of our college and, beyond that, of an arts and sciences education.

We must advocate for the power and lasting value of both the content and the skills acquired through an arts and sciences education.

What does this mean? We must be thought-leaders and engage other thought-leaders to advance and promote an Arts and Sciences education within the Ohio State community, the State of Ohio, and at the national level. I do this through my Vice Provost role but we all need to raise our voices.

It’s been said ad nauseum that the liberal arts are not of value. But, at the same time, we hear employers clamoring for the skills and abilities that our programs instill — reasoning, logic, critical thinking, deep analysis, cultural and historical context, communication skills — both verbal and written.

As the largest college of arts and sciences in the country, we are not just in a unique position to be a powerful advocate, it is INCUMBENT upon us to do so.

Strategic Plan Focus Area 5: Resource Stewardship and Growth

Our fifth focus area is Resource Stewardship and Growth.

We must be good stewards of our limited resources. That is true regardless of budget. That is why we must articulate our strategy — to help guide our investments and commit to directing as many resources as possible toward our academic mission.

We must also be creative and dedicated to finding more ways to increase the size of our budget. We must be fierce advocates for the college with central administration.

We must also look to other sources. Last year we raised over $37 million for scholarships, faculty support and other enhancements through fundraising. But we can do more, as our peers show, especially with more than 200,000 living alums. Over the next five years, for example, I want to see a SIGNIFICANT increase in the number of our endowed chairs and professorships.

Finally, we must review and refine administrative structures to support the academic mission with a commitment to streamlining processes when possible — this means working to reduce bureaucracy, the strain that is felt at every level of the college.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the next five years.

This is my fifth year with you here in the college and each year I see more evidence of success and more opportunities for us to work and grow together. We may have our challenges but nobody has our “riches.”

  • Top-notch faculty
  • Staff who are the absolute best at what they do
  • Research and creative scholarship at the cutting edge
  • State-of-the-art research and performance facilities
  • Students — undergraduate and graduate — who are exceptional learners and partners

With our new strategic plan to chart our path forward and your dedication and commitment – I know that we have a dynamic year ahead of us.

Thank you all for coming today. I know that time is precious and it is not always easy to make room in your schedules. I hope you feel, as I do, that this annual gathering is a great way to kick-off another successful year. 

To celebrate a new year, here's just a small sampling of the incredible work happening in @ASCatOSU #ASCDaily