Notes from a Fellow Buckeye
As the semester draws to a close and we look forward to the holiday break, I want to thank you for your dedication and excellence this semester and beyond. The past two years have brought historic challenges for our university and, as members of our incredible faculty and staff, you have time and again demonstrated remarkable commitment and resilience. So many of you have put aside personal time and made sacrifices to support our teaching, learning, research and service missions.
We must now — more than ever — emphasize the health, safety and well-being of the people who are working every day to support our students — and each other.
With this focus in mind, I am pleased to share that the university will be closed December 23 through December 29 and on December 31. The additional days of December 27, 28 and 29 are to extend the long holiday weekend and provide you with additional opportunities to rest, recharge and spend time with your families, friends and loved ones. Employees who wish to request a vacation day on December 30 may also consider this option.
As is the case regarding regular university holidays, services that are critical, as determined by unit and college leadership, will continue during this time. Employees required to work during the closure will be paid. In addition, non-exempt employees will be eligible to earn compensatory time and exempt employees will be eligible for flex time.
Our deep and sincere gratitude goes to those employees who fulfill these services — on holidays and every other day of the year as well. For additional information about implementation and eligibility, please see the Office of Human Resources website.
Thank you, Buckeyes, and I hope that you are able to use this time to focus further on your health and wellness.
As you have likely heard me say this semester, fully achieving greatness requires a strategic focus on five areas of excellence: academics; knowledge enterprise; talent and culture; service; and operational. I can say without exaggeration, Ohio State is home to the greatest faculty and staff of any higher learning institution, and I am proud to stand among you all.
We have laid out a bold agenda for Ohio State.
During my investiture, I was thrilled to announce details of the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, our plan to offer a debt-free bachelor’s degree within a decade. Ohio State will raise $800 million, including $500 million in endowments. We also have a $50 million match pool thanks to our generous Buckeye family. It is another example of Ohio State serving as a leader among our peers across the nation.
I also am excited about our faculty hiring efforts and the RAISE Initiative — short for Race, Inclusion and Social Equity. Through this program, we will add to our already superb scholarship and research focused on racial disparities by recruiting new faculty who will consider inequities in fields that include health care, STEM education, social justice and public safety, the environment, leadership and economic resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strengthened its recommendation on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and the university is urging everyone ages 18 and older to get a booster shot. Vaccine appointments are scheduled through MyChart. Read more on the Get Vaccinated page.
If you have recently returned from international locations or traveled within the U.S. through major international travel hubs, I urge you to be tested at your earliest convenience. You are also encouraged to test before traveling for winter break and when you return to campus. Testing can provide individuals with peace of mind and help keep others healthy.
As a reminder, asymptomatic surveillance testing is available to all students, staff and faculty members at our campus testing locations, including Monday through Friday at Jesse Owens North on the Columbus campus. For regional locations, dates and hours, and information about how to schedule through MyChart, visit the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.
We have much to celebrate, including multiple honors bestowed on Buckeyes this semester, the return to spectator sports and strong support for our major initiatives.
- The Wexner Medical Center became the first in the nation to use a novel pulmonary neuromodulation system. Dr. Sitaramesh Emani, director of heart failure clinical research and associate professor of cardiovascular medicine, used the technology to treat patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure with Dr. Rami Kahwash, director of Ohio State’s heart and vascular research and professor of clinical medicine, assisting.
- Congratulations to Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services, for winning the Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor the National Association of College & University Food Services bestows upon an individual in recognition of outstanding and enduring contributions to the foodservice industry. Thank you for your commitment to diversity and outstanding leadership.
- Amna Akbar, professor of law in the Moritz College of Law and co-author of “Race, Racism and American Law, 7th Ed.,” is a recipient of the Freedom Scholars Awards for 2021. The Freedom Scholars are leading research in critical fields including abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical and anti-colonialist studies. The annual award, established in 2020, counters the limited financial resources and research constraints frequently faced by scholars whose work supports social movements. The cohort of scholars will each receive $250,000 in unrestricted funds, distributed over two years, to utilize as they see fit.
The energy, creativity and dedication from our staff and faculty is a gift to our university.
Kristina M. Johnson, PhD