Ohio State President Announces Pledge to Hire 50 Scholars Focused on Race, Equity Issues

In her first state of the university address, Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, president of The Ohio State University, announced a new initiative called RAISE: race, inclusion and social equity, that includes a pledge to hire 50 scholars who address social equity and racial disparities in their work as well as 100 faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds across all fields. All new openings will be tenure-track positions.

“This means a lot to me,” Johnson said in her address. “As a young woman studying engineering in the 1970s, it took me a long time to realize that I could become a professor too, because I never had a woman professor in any of my basic science, math or engineering coursework … I want every single Ohio State student to be able to look across the lecture hall or seminar table and understand immediately that their dreams are valid and achievable.”

Dr. Kristina M. Johnson

To support the new faculty, the university will group scholars into hiring cohorts with a focus on helping underrepresented scholars network across disciplines.

“Ultimately, the RAISE initiative will bring to Ohio State researchers who develop new approaches to building an anti-racist society, while changing the composition of our faculty and transforming our own culture, practices and policies so that Ohio State becomes an absolutely inclusive community,” Johnson said.

The initiative is a part of a larger push to hire at least 350 tenure-track faculty members within ten years. According to Johnson, undergraduate enrollment rose by 5,800 students since 2008, while the net number of tenure-track faculty dropped by 219 during the same period.

Dr. Donna Y. Ford, distinguished professor of education at The Ohio State University, was “ecstatic” about the new initiative. Hearing Johnson’s address, “it just made my chest swell,” she said.

Ford came back to Ohio State after serving as a professor at Vanderbilt University. For her, the initiative was confirmation that returning to the institution was the right choice.



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