During his fourth semi-annual address to university faculty, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee discussed the economy’s impact on nationwide administrative decisions and OSU’s ability to become a leader through its recent restructuring efforts.
With the newly renovated William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library as his stage, Gee spoke of the library as a metaphor for the changes ahead.
“Gone are many of the walls. Everything has been uncovered. This library is the physical, intellectual and historical heart of the university,” Gee said.
Gee said the economy has taken a turn for the worse since his most recent address to the faculty in October, and cited recent adjustments other universities have made to reduce spending.
“Arizona State University employees are being required to take 15 days of unpaid leave within the next month,” Gee said.
“Faced with a 15 percent budget reduction within the next two years, University of California is increasing tuition by 10 percent and reducing freshman enrollment by 2,300 students.”
Although both public and private universities are facing critical decisions because of the economy, Gee said public universities are faring “marginally better” than private universities.
“Planning for reductions is thoroughly ingrained in [public universities’] budget annual process,” Gee said. “Many [private universities] are making mistakes.”
Gee critiqued Harvard University’s recent decision to offer buyouts to faculty, stop all construction and hiring, and close libraries.
“From one perspective, that is the most humane thing to do,” Gee said. “We cannot allow that to happen at Ohio State.”
Gee said the restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences, the academic calendar conversion to semesters, and the Medical Center’s construction program all demonstrate OSU’s “unequivocal ability” to become a leader in higher education.
“This time of global uncertainty is Ohio State’s liberating moment of opportunity,” Gee said. “Get rid of the damn Midwestern modesty.”