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Arts and Sciences dean candidate highlights value of education for citizenship in open forum

Gretchen Ritter was presented as a candidate for the dean of Ohio State College of Arts and Sciences Friday. Credit: Ian Gray | For the Lantern

Gretchen Ritter, the former Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, was presented at an open forum Friday as a candidate for the dean of Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Ritter’s plan for the College of Arts and Sciences focused on the ability of a liberal arts education to promote citizenship and expressed her commitment to diversity and inclusion. She also addressed Ohio State’s unique ability to highlight these ideals.

“Being a university located in the state capital allows us the ability to have a broader impact throughout the state,” Ritter said.

Ritter was asked about how the college can promote citizenship while facing systematic changes in education, and she said she thinks universities like Ohio State are already leading the way.

“I honestly think that the public flagship universities are already on the path to change,” Ritter said. “They set an example for others in higher education.”

Ritter also expressed her vision about what role a land-grant university in Ohio should take and how that should look during cultural shifts in the region.

She said a land-grant university represents a “commitment to opportunity” and that Ohio can be a place where a positive difference is made.

When asked how she would support Arts and Sciences lecturers, especially those without tenure, Ritter said she is committed to recognizing the work of all faculty through both awards and professional and curricular development.

“There needs to be good mentoring and support all along the way,” Ritter said. “Careful, fair decisions need to be made at all times.”

Ritter also wants students to build their own education through collaboration between different departments.

She said students are often the ones to help point the way for administrators, using the interest from students in environment and sustainability as an example.

Ritter emphasized the importance of diversity amongst faculty.

“It’s something I have cared about my entire career,” she said. “I significantly increased hiring of women and people of color for faculty positions. That is something that takes consistent effort.”

She said she also plans to improve pathways for underrepresented and first-time students, reduce achievement gaps, combat stereotypes and improve belonging on campus.

Ritter told the audience she views education as a public good for both public and private universities, and that she hopes to help faculty articulate the work they do to the public.

She also emphasized the ability of the College of Arts and Sciences to create well-rounded students and creative thinkers.

“Part of what I think is so valuable for students is that we ask them to imagine the world from so many different angles, from a humanistic perspective, to a social perspective, to scientific perspective,” she said. “This is what creates people who can think outside of the box.”

Roman Holowinsky, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and member of the search advisory committee, reminded those attending the forum to provide feedback on the process.

According to an email from the Dean Search Advisory Committee, they will no longer be moving forward with the candidate forum on Tuesday. The last forum will take place on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Sullivant Hall room 220.

One comment

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