Education Executives Seeks President for The Ohio State University

May 17, 2023 – Santa Barbara, CA-based Education Executives has been chosen to find the next president of The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus. Former president Kristina Johnson announced in November that she would be stepping down from the role at the end of the academic year, in May. She later said that her resignation was fueled by conflicts with the university’s board of trustees.

“The role of president provides an extraordinary platform to refine, advance, and implement a shared vision for the university,” said Education Executives. “The president will work with constituents across the university, nation, and world to enhance academic excellence, drive a culture of innovation, and ensure access and affordability to students and families of all backgrounds.”

The new president must have a record of success leading a complex organization and possess a deep understanding of the academic enterprise, said the search firm. OSU is a comprehensive research university with multiple campuses, a comprehensive healthcare system, diverse and outstanding athletic programs, and a statewide as well as international reach. The president must have the capacity to leverage these resources and embrace the important responsibility of being a land-grant university and Ohio’s flagship university with direct impact on the many communities it serves.

Attracting New Revenue

OSU has taken significant steps to leverage assets (e.g., parking and energy) and to control costs. “Working with the university administration and board of trustees, the president must provide continuous attention to the effectiveness of strategic resource management measures relative to the pursuit of academic excellence and affordability,” said Education Executives. “The university is funded by a combination of public and private support. The president must have a proven ability to attract new revenue and increase philanthropic support to further the goals of the institution.”

Deep understanding of university culture is essential to this role. The president must have a doctorate or appropriate terminal degree, or have appropriate experience and an established track record in academic leadership. OSU’s structure of shared governance gives voice to the faculty, staff, and students alike. The president must appreciate that structure and foster open communication and transparency with all constituents. Critically, the president must value the university’s culture and always lead in ways consistent with OSU’s shared values.

“The next leader will be a connector and convener able to bring private, public and academic sectors together to solve challenge,” said Education Executives. “The president will be highly consultative and, as necessary, decisive in managing the university’s continued success — engaging and partnering with alumni and donors, Columbus and regional community partners, media, legislators, other government officials, industry leaders, and more.”

Academic Excellence

OSU seeks a leader who has the experience and acumen to help move the university forward in enhancing academic excellence by retaining and attracting scholars of the highest caliber. The academic plan guides OSU in faculty hiring and development, and the next leader has the opportunity to support, enhance and ensure the plan’s success.

Related: Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Non-Profit & Higher Education Search Firms

OSU wants its next president to be optimistic and action-oriented, said the search firm. The university’s next leader should also be: authentic and transparent, a servant leader and team player, dynamic and energetic, curious and open-minded, a charismatic listener, consultative, and, as necessary, decisive. The individual should also be communications focused with exceptional interpersonal skills and political acumen as well as appreciative of OSU’s special character and context.

Storbeck Search Recruits SVP of Talent, Culture & HR for Ohio State University
Higher education-focused search firm Storbeck Search, part of the Diversified Search Group, has helped to place Jeff Risinger as senior vice president of talent, culture and human resources at Ohio State University. The assignment was led by Steve Leo and Vicki Henderson of Storbeck Search and Matt Vossler of Diversified Search Group. For the past several months, Paul Patton, senior advisor to the president, has served as interim human resources leader. “As Ohio State’s top advisor on workplace and human resources issues, Dr. Risinger will provide leadership across the university to support our values, help advance our diversity and inclusion efforts, and continue to foster a Buckeye culture that positively impacts our entire community,” said university president Kristina M. Johnson. 

Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university, The Ohio State University is a leading research university and the model for Ohio’s public higher education institutes. Its student body includes almost 66,000 students, and the university offers more than 200 majors and programs — plus 500 specializations for undergraduates, in addition to 127 master’s degree programs, 102 doctoral degree programs, nine professional degree programs and an estimated 12,000 course offerings.

Respected Recruiters

Santa Barbara, CA-based Education Executives specializes in the identification, recruitment, and mentorship of senior leaders for comprehensive research universities, academic medical centers, and scientific entities. Education Executives consultants have conducted over 300 successful searches for senior academic leaders across the nation.

The search firm is led by president Ilene H. Nagel. Previously, she served as the global leader of the higher education practice for Russell Reynolds Associates. Before becoming a search consultant, Dr. Nagel had more than 30 years’ experience as an academic, with professorial appointments in several AAU research universities. Most recently, she served as the executive vice chancellor (chief academic officer) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before that, Dr. Nagel was dean of the graduate school and associate provost for research at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previously, she was on the law faculty at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she was a tenured full professor, with a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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