University Trustee Lewis Von Thaer addresses participants of a public forum as part of the presidential search process at Thompson Library Friday. Credit: Max Garrison | Lantern reporter

More than 30 people gathered for the second public forum in the presidential search process Friday.

Regional campuses and university community health were discussion topics as members of the university community voiced what they are looking for in Ohio State’s next president to Lewis Von Thaer and Susan Olesik, members of the presidential search committee, at Thompson Library. 

Von Thaer, university trustee and chair of the selection subcommittee, and Olesik, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and chair of the advisory subcommittee, hosted the second of six scheduled public forums aimed to solicit feedback on the “qualities, skills, attributes and experiences” the university community desires in Ohio State’s 16th president, according to the university trustees’ website.

“We will use that feedback to write what basically is the presidential profile, which is a job description for the president,” Olesik said.

Kathleen Hatch, executive director of recreational sports in the Office of Student Life, said the university is well positioned to champion many aspects of human health and hopes to expand beyond the “laser focus” on mental health.

“I think there’s moments and an opportunity — particularly here, given assets and skills and expertise — to capitalize on other types of health and to change that equation in a really regenerative way, which would be exciting,” Hatch said.

Na’Tyra Green, an assistant writer in the Office of the President, said the next president should have a focus on excellence in education at Ohio State’s regional campuses.

“I think we will need someone who will continue to champion all of the Ohio State campuses and put an emphasis that it is one just Ohio State education, not just, ‘You went to Columbus, so that means you somehow got a better education. Put emphasis on the excellence all across the board, at all of our campuses,” Green said. 

Von Thaer said although the search committee’s process has a tentative timeline, it is not required to have the next president in place by the beginning of the next academic year.

“We will execute a process that hopefully will be able to get to a decision before the new school year starts,” Von Thaer told The Lantern. “But I think the search committee and the trustees are also committed that we won’t settle for a substandard candidate if we just haven’t found the right person yet.”

The first public forum was scheduled to take place Wednesday but was canceled due to inclement weather after less than 10 people showed up, according to previous Lantern reporting. 

Olesik said to The Lantern the first forum will likely not be rescheduled because the search committee is on a tight timeframe. 

“We need to work hard and have the job description written within the next few weeks, so we have a pretty tight task for ourselves,” Olesik said.

One more public forum will take place at the Columbus campus, and three will take place at Ohio State’s regional campuses, according to the university trustees’ website.  It will also be livestreamed on the Board of Trustees’ website.

The final Columbus-campus public forum is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater.

The regional-campus public forums will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Marion campus in Maynard Hall; 2-3 p.m. Thursday at the Mansfield campus in Ovalwood Hall; and 12:15-1:15 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Lima campus in the Perry Webb Student Life Building.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Mansfield campus forum would take place Wednesday. It will occur on Thursday.