The Ohio State University Board of Trustees discussed the success of research and growing online-course options Wednesday at the Longaberger Alumni House. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

The Ohio State Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs, Student Life and Research Committee highlighted the success of research and the university’s growing online-course options among other topics at Wednesday’s meeting at the Longaberger Alumni House.

Morley Stone, senior vice president for research in Ohio State’s Office of Research, presented the university’s strategic plan for research and creative expression to guide Ohio State to become a leading land-grant university in research and creative excellence. 

The strategic plan lists goals of supporting talent and culture, developing future research leaders, driving research excellence, providing quality infrastructure and accelerating impact, all of which are accomplished through a three-pillar structure — people, research and impact — Stone said.

“We’ve had a record year in terms of research expenditures here at the university,” Stone said. 

Stone said that the university’s $929 million in research expenditures has been driven by 9 percent growth in funding from the National Institutes of Health, over 14 percent growth from the Department of Defense and nearly 15 percent growth from NASA. 

Stone said this growth is reflected in the strategic plan’s approach to supporting offices such as research development, which has been responsible for bringing in more than $227 million in research funding in the past four years.

Another element of university success highlighted at the committee meeting regarded the work being done in the online teaching environment. 

A case study on the growth of Ohio State’s online course and program opportunities was presented by Mike Hofherr, vice president and chief information officer in the Office of the CIO; Robert Griffiths, associate vice president in the Office of Distance Education and eLearning; and Wendy Bowles, assistant dean of baccalaureate programs in the College of Nursing that demonstrated the quality, goals and importance of online- and hybrid-course options.

“We’re really talking about general education courses and the work we do with the College of Arts and Sciences and these general education courses,” Hofherr said. “This is about students’ flexibility, student retention and access to new offices and new audiences.”

That access was supported by a 2012 goal of having 10 general education courses available online by 2018. Hofherr said that in 2014, the goal increased to having 25 online courses by 2020. Today, there are 164 online-course options, supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and the ODEE. 

Hofherr said these numbers are important because 23,182 students have taken advantage of the online options. Bruce McPheron, university executive vice president and provost, added that in the past spring semester, more resident students took an online general education course than in-person, demonstrating the popularity of such an option.

Other topics discussed at the committee meeting included the university’s holistic approach to wellness, a new master’s program for transactional data analytics — to be approved at the full Board meeting Thursday — and faculty personnel actions.