Celebrating the Fourth, graduation celebrations, Buckeye Olympians

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I hope you had an enjoyable Fourth of July weekend celebrating our Declaration of Independence. This year’s glorious Fourth allowed us to return to some of the in-person celebrations and traditions that we love. These moments were made possible by steadfast adherence to safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and significant scientific advancements to rapidly develop and deploy highly effective vaccines. 

If you are already vaccinated, thank you for taking this critical step to protect yourself, your friends and family, and your community! If you aren’t, and are in the Columbus area, there’s a new vaccination site open at University Health (McCampbell Outpatient Care) Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people 18 years of age and older. Students, faculty and staff can also get vaccinations at Jesse Owens North on Wednesdays (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Fridays (9:30 a.m. to noon) throughout the summer.

Read more about scheduling a vaccination. Thank you, Buckeyes, for helping to keep one another safe.

Return to campus

As we continue to refine our public health response, Ohio State is asking students and employees to voluntarily share their vaccine information to help inform decisions to keep our entire university community healthy and safe. This data will also allow us to relax health requirements as appropriate. Students can share their vaccination status at My BuckMD. Faculty and staff can report through a simple online form.

In accordance with changes in public health guidance, maintaining a safe physical distance and masks are no longer required on our campuses for those who are fully vaccinated, with the exception of Wexner Medical Center clinical facilities, Student Health facilities and colleges and units with public-facing clinical operations, and on public transportation. Those who are not vaccinated should continue to observe masking protocols throughout our campuses.

In a message to employees, we outlined expectations and addressed key questions about the campus reactivation process. Leaders in individual colleges and areas will make decisions about work arrangements based on the mission and needs of each college or area as well as the roles of individual employees. Plans are expected to be finalized by July 15.

Graduation celebrations

We are excited to be preparing for our in-person commencement ceremonies – the first near-normal celebrations of student achievements at Ohio State since the pandemic began. Graduates and their friends and families will be able to enjoy the celebration of the Class of 2020 at 7:30 p.m. on August 7 and the Summer 2021 commencement at 2 p.m. on August 8, with limited health and safety protocols. I can’t wait to celebrate with all of our outstanding Buckeye graduates

College visits

I was thrilled to tour our College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Wooster Campus on June 23 with Dean Cathann Kress and other campus leaders. This amazing campus is home to our Ohio State ATI, Secrest Arboretum, Plant and Animal Agrosecurity Research Facility, Center for Food Animal Health and more. CFAES is home to ground-breaking education and research that have a positive impact on our environment, the preservation of critical flora and fauna, and how we produce food and protect our planet. 

On June 30, I visited the College of Veterinary Medicine and had a wonderful tour led by Dean Rustin Moore and the college’s exceptional students, faculty and staff. I would be remiss if I did not note the recent virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony for our Frank Stanton Veterinary Spectrum of Care Clinic, which launched a first-of-its-kind educational experience that gives students opportunities to work alongside clinicians and help solve problems across a broad spectrum of cases. The college excels at providing firsthand, real-time knowledge to students, experiences that are invaluable to their long-term professional success.

Leadership announcements

We are pleased to share that Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman will be the next dean of the College of Dentistry, effective August 15. She has deep experience as an educator, clinician, researcher and academic leader – and will join us from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she serves as associate dean for faculty development and chair of the Department of Orthodontics. Dr. Trotman will build on the achievements of Dr. Patrick M. Lloyd, who announced last year that he would be stepping down as dean in August. We thank Dr. Lloyd for helping to lead the college to new heights and look forward to welcoming Dr. Trotman.

Dr. Gretchen Ritter, who has been vice provost and executive dean at our College of Arts and Sciences since 2019, will become vice chancellor, provost and chief academic officer of Syracuse University. She will remain in her current role at Ohio State at least through August 1, and we thank her for her tremendous work throughout the communities we serve. And thank you to Dr. David G. Horn, associate executive dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, who has agreed to serve as interim executive dean of the college. The university will launch a national search for the next dean.

 Discovery, learning and impact

Twelve cross-disciplinary projects have been awarded funding in the second round of Ohio State’s Seed Fund for Racial Justice. The grants will seed innovative research approaches and creative ideas that contribute to the elimination of racism and address its underlying causes and consequences. Each project will be undertaken in collaboration with community partners.

Additional developments and shout-outs of note include:

  • A spring semester that concluded with our first in-person commencement since late 2019 also saw more than 23,000 students excel in the classroom. The spring 2021 dean’s list featured 23,941 students with top grades. Congratulations, all!
  • Members of a team at the Wexner Medical Center and its Neurological Institute are among the first in the nation to implant a new deep-brain stimulation device that will help improve the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Neurosurgeons Dr. Vibhor Krishna and Dr. Brian Dalm, in collaboration with neurologists Dr. Aristide Merola and Dr. Barbara Changizi, performed the first two surgeries in the Midwest.
  • Dr. Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering, has been named one of the “20 Most Influential Academics” by Smart Manufacturing magazine. Dr. Howard and I sat down to talk on International Women in Engineering Day on June 23. You can view the conversation, hosted by College of Engineering alumna Lisa McCauley, here.
  • My special thanks go to Dr. Shawn “Thunder” Wallace, director of jazz studies and associate professor of jazz saxophone in our School of Music. He was kind enough to host me on his podcast, and it was wonderful to be part of such a lively, fun discussion. I was also excited to join second-year student Sam Feudo on his “Understanding Healthcare” podcast (available on multiple platforms, including Spotify). Sam is studying public policy analysis on a pre-medicine track at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. We had a great conversation, and it’s always terrific to chat with other Buckeyes!

A little bit of a public service announcement before I sign off: It has been very warm as of late, though thankfully, not as brutal as the heat wave experienced in the Pacific Northwest. It’s important to remember to stay hydrated, limit exercise – and walking pets – to the cooler morning and evening times of the day, and take frequent breaks from exertion in the shade.


Sincerely yours,


Kristina M. Johnson, PhD