Ohio State University (OSU) Kristina M. Johnson announced on Monday night that she will be stepping down as president of the university, effective next May, at the end of the current academic year. Johnson’s announcement confirmed a report of her resignation that had appeared in The Columbus Dispatch earlier in the day.
Her departure as OSU’s 16th president appears to have been prompted by the University’s Board of Trustees requesting that she resign, following an investigation conducted by an outside firm into concerns expressed by university staff. The details of that investigation remain vague at this time, and the university has not provided any further clarification of the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s decision.
In her statement, Dr. Johnson said that she was “very proud of all that we have accomplished together. It’s been a privilege to serve this incredible university, and I have been honored to work as part of this brilliant, dedicated and passionate community.”
“I have made the difficult decision to step down as president following commencement at the end of the academic year,” she added. “This will allow a search for the next president to proceed and adequate time for me to assist with a seamless transition.”
Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, chair of the Board of Trustees, provided the following statement: “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I want to thank Dr. Johnson for her dedication to the university, especially her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate her on her many achievements and wish her our very best in her future professional endeavors.”
Johnson will leave the OSU presidency after only about two-and-a- half years on the job. She had signed a five-year contract for the post, which she began on Aug. 24, 2020, succeeding Michael V. Drake, who has served as OSU president since June 2014.
Previously, Johnson, who earned her PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University, had been chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY) since 2017. Prior to that, she served as under secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy and held academic leadership positions at Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Just about a year ago, during her investiture speech. Johnson had outlined her vision for Ohio State, pointing to five areas where she would focus on achieving excellence: academics; talent and culture; research, scholarship, creative expression, entrepreneurship and partnerships; service to the state, nation and world; and resource management.
Part of that plan was The Scarlet & Gray Advantage™ program that, when fully funded, would make it possible for OSU students to earn an undergraduate degree, debt-free.
The OSU Board of Trustees indicted that it would begin the search for the university’s 17th president, and said that “the university will share more information about the search and how the community can participate in early 2023.”
Johnson’s resignation is just the latest in a spate of announced departures by presidents and chancellors of high profile institutions over the past year, including Harvard University, University of Florida, University of Michigan, MIT, Purdue University, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Tufts University, New York University, George Washington University, Bowdoin College, Harvey Mudd College, Dartmouth College, and Smith College.
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