In one of the several posts and threads about the most recent, and ultimately tenure-ending gaffes committed by legendary Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, someone asked for a succinct recitation of his many, many accomplishments. While the general consensus is that he is a "transformational leader" who has significantly advanced the mission and vision of our university, it's hard to put his many achievements into a handy list or set of talking points.
Fortunately, two writers at onCampus, Ohio State's faculty and staff news outlet, did just that. Here are some highlights:
- Significant gains in student retention and graduation rates.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars more for research and student aid.
- A nearly doubling of the international student population.
- An increase in the number of faculty named to the national academies and as fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Endowment fund growth that led the nation among colleges and universities in 2012.
- Generating revenue through creative use of university assets and affinity agreements to enhance Ohio State’s core academic mission.
Okay, but what about some quantifiable stuff? Well, the authors had some numbers to back up our warm and fuzzy feelings for Dr. Gee, too:
- Cancer research donations have increased by 669 percent, including $42 million raised via the Pelotonia.
- Institutional financial aid for students has risen to $450 million from $370 million.
- Average ACT scores have risen to 29 from 27.
- New Gateway Offices have opened in Shanghai, China and Mumbai, India, expanding our outreach to students, alumni and partners.
- Six-year graduation rates are 82.4 percent, up from 72.7 percent.
- President Gee helped raise more than $1.6 billion in private funding. The past two years have been the most successful fundraising years in university history.
- Applications to Ohio State have risen by 60 percent, to 35,000 from 22,000.
- Finance strategies generated more than $1 billion to support academics core — including century bonds, parking lease, streamlining and affinity agreements.
In other words, the second Gee era (2007-2013) has been a pretty damn amazing success story for the Ohio State community. Perhaps his biggest fingerprints, however, are left in the form of the vision that is guiding the University now and moving forward.
Since that time, Ohio State has rolled out the One University Framework, a universal planning document that provides direction for current and future growth for the next 50-100 years — all in context of a larger picture of increased collaboration and cooperation.
University leadership, under Alutto’s academic direction, has mapped out the intersection between OSU’s strengths and global needs and unveiled three Discovery Themes — Health and Wellness; Food Safety and Security; and Energy and Environment — to focus both its significant intellect and its funding in order to make a difference in the world. According to its strategic plan, Ohio State will hire 500 new faculty members over the next 10 years in the Discovery Theme areas.
At the same time, Gee and Alutto have focused on helping students succeed.
Much of the early fundraising for the $2.5 billion “But For Ohio State” campaign focused on student financial aid. And, guided by the One University Framework, efforts also are now solidly under way on a new Second-Year Transformational Experience Program — building and renovating student housing space that will allow all sophomores to live on campus where they will have more opportunity to interact with faculty members.
“It should be clear to all that President Gee has enhanced the university in immeasurable ways,” Alutto told the Board of Trustees. “Because of his vision and the remarkable team he has assembled, the journey from excellence to eminence is well under way. … President Gee leaves us with a foundation of strength and a model for presidential impact that will serve Ohio State well in the future.”
So as July 1 approaches, and along with it the end of one of the greatest eras in University history, let us again raise a glass to one of our greatest presidents, E. Gordon Gee. May he live forever.