Courtesy of OSU
Moving to an administrative position was always in the back of Joseph Steinmetz’s mind, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee approached him that he began to think seriously about becoming OSU’s provost.
“The question is always is this the right time and is this the right place,” said Steinmetz, the executive dean and vice provost of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The answer was definitely yes to both of those.”
Steinmetz credits Executive Dean and Vice Provost Joseph Alutto, in part, for getting the university in the position that it is. But after more than six years, Alutto is stepping down. And starting July 1, Steinmetz will step into the role, and he’s looking forward to it.
“There couldn’t be a better time to become provost,” Steinmetz said. “This place is hot and people from around the country think this place is going places.”
Alutto will leave a lofty legacy that involves leading the university through the switch to semesters, the creation of the College of Arts and Sciences and honing in on student research as part of the educational process.
“The purpose of all of these positions … is really to create that environment in which faculty and students can prosper and you spend all your time doing that and all the rest is just details for how to get there,” Alutto said.
Alutto has been with OSU since 1991 and assumed his current position in 2007, making him the second-longest serving provost in OSU history . Prior to that appointment he was dean of the Fisher College of Business.
He also holds the title of executive vice president and serves the university as chief academic officer. He plans to stay involved with the university – writing and possibly teaching some courses – and spend more time with his 14 grandchildren, the oldest of whom is 11.
“They’re at a good age where they still enjoy spending a little bit of time with their grandfather,” Alutto said.
But he won’t call this retirement.
“For most academics, it’s hard to differentiate between retirement and work because the work that you do you have a passion for it,” Alutto said.
Yet that doesn’t mean he won’t be missed.
“He’s been certainly such a strong provost,” said Gayle Saunders, university spokeswoman.
In an email sent to faculty at the end of November, Gee said Alutto’s “rigor of thought, clear vision and compassion have provided the ballast that helps keep our university on an upward trajectory.”
Alutto said Steinmetz holds one of the same qualities that helped make him a successful provost.
“One of the things that I am good at, and I know Joe is too, is the managing of large-scale change,” Alutto said. “It was having a sense of how to make that work at a large-scale institution that I think set Ohio State apart.”
And he’ll have something that Alutto didn’t – a smooth, prepared transition.
Alutto was the interim president and provost when he made the transition to provost, and said he had some “unusual sets of responsibilities” that made the move “a lot more complex.” Steinmetz has an advantageous six-month transition period that, like the nationwide search for his replacement, has already begun.
“I meet regularly with the provost in addition to the meetings I have within Arts and Sciences,” Steinmetz said. “I’m sitting in on a lot of meetings involving other administrators that normally the provost would go to learning as much as I can, and that’s an advantage that I have.”
Gee said in the email that Steinmetz “will continue and expand the effort to move us forward academically and solidify our position in the front ranks of American universities” in the provost position.
Despite the preparation, Steinmetz said the unforeseen is still unnerving.
“You always become nervous that … something’s gonna happen that you can’t predict. We’re assuming the economy is moving forward, but there’s a lot of things about higher education that you can’t predict,” Steinmetz said.
Alutto is currently paid a $554,559 salary and Steinmetz is paid $348,418.
Steinmetz came to the university in 2009 to work with the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college within the university. Before that he served as interim provost at the University of Kansas.