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Search process for new Ohio State president to begin Friday

Jeffrey Wadsworth will be the chair of the Presidential Search Committee.

Courtesy of OSU

The Ohio State Board of Trustees announced Tuesday morning the search process for the next university president will officially begin Friday.

Board member Jeffrey Wadsworth was named by Chairman Robert Schottenstein to chair the Presidential Search Committee. The committee will meet for the first time Friday, according to an OSU press release.

Schottenstein will provide the charge and Wadsworth will lay out the vision, roles and approximate timeline for the search committees work during that meeting, according to the release.

There will be two subcommittees, a selection subcommittee and an advisory subcommittee, within the larger committee that will work together to find a new president.

The selection subcommittee, led by Wadsworth, will be made up of five Board members – Schottenstein, Wadsworth, Michael Gasser, Janet Reid and Alex Shumate. The committee will provide a presidential candidate recommendation to the Board, likely enlisting the help of an executive search firm and the advisory subcommittee before making a selection, according to the release.

Assistant vice president of media and public relations Gayle Saunders said the external search firm the Board will likely be using “has not yet been identified.”

The advisory subcommittee will have 13 members, including faculty, elected student leaders, staff and senior administrators, with the goal of representing and seeking input from the OSU community and deciding upon the qualities, skills and experience the next president should have.

Deborah Jones Merritt, an OSU law professor, assembled the advisory subcommittee.

The members of the subcommittee will be Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology; Sarah Adelson, chief of staff of the Inter-Professional Council; Leslie Alexander, an associate professor in the department of African American and African studies; Janet Box-Steffensmeier, the Vernal Riffe professor of political science and faculty liaison to the board of trustees; Michael Eicher, senior vice president for Advancement and president of the OSU Foundation; Archie Griffin, senior vice president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association; Richard Hart, chair and professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Emily Meyer, chair of the University Staff Advisory Committee; Randy Nelson, the Dr. John D. and E. Olive Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching; Colin Odden, representative for the Council of Graduate Students and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology; Taylor Stepp, the president of Undergraduate Student Government; and Andrew Thomas, chief medical officer for the OSU Wexner Medical Center, according to a press release.

Schottenstein said Wadsworth – who holds a Ph.D. from Stafford University, has worked as adjunct or consulting faculty at four universities, including OSU, and who leads Battelle, a Columbus-based applied science and technology development company – is the best candidate for chair of the search process.

“The combination of Jeff’s outstanding academic credentials and his leadership of large, complex organizations makes him an ideal chair of the search process,” Schottenstein said in a released statement.

Wadsworth said the position of OSU president is and should be a desired spot.

“The academic standing of the entire university, from programs to faculty to students, is at an all-time high and there are a number of exciting and transformative strategic initiatives occurring across campus,” Wadsworth said. “We believe the presidency of Ohio State offers an exceptional opportunity because of the university’s strong positive momentum and the collegial environment in which it operates. We are committed to an open, inclusive and informed search process that attracts a world-class leader.”

Schottenstein said the search process is the Board’s most important job.

“The selection of the university’s next president is the most significant responsibility of the board of trustees,” Schottenstein said in a released statement. “We undertake this responsibility at a time of both enormous importance and promise. The university has real momentum and is ideally situated to attract the next great leader for Ohio State.”

Former OSU president E. Gordon Gee told the public June 4 he would be retiring, effective July 1. The announcement came days after controversial remarks Gee made at a Dec. 5 OSU Athletic Conference became public. Comments about Notre Dame and the SEC in particular, among other remarks, brought national attention.

Joseph Alutto is serving as the interim president.

Information about Gee’s exit package has not been finalized yet.

A request for Alutto’s salary as interim president was not returned Tuesday.

The Board is also planning to hold a discussion about the “challenges and requisites of the modern university presidency” during its Aug. 29-30 meeting. The Panel Discussion on the University Presidency will include national leaders who are or have been university presidents or scholars of university presidency, according to the release.

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