May 5, 2023 - Education

Ohio State president departs as search continues

Students walk across the Ohio State University oval, near a statue of past OSU president William Oxley Thompson

Photo: Jo McCulty/Courtesy of Ohio State University

President Kristina M. Johnson will bid Ohio State University farewell alongside graduates at this weekend's commencement.

Driving the news: Johnson's last day, Sunday, ushers in a time of transitional uncertainty as a search continues to find her replacement, —with no interim president appointed yet.

Why it matters: OSU's president, overseeing a campus with over 60,000 students, wields influence not just at the school but also in the community at large.

  • Johnson's tenure is the second shortest in university history, further adding pressure for the search to be successful this go-around.

Catch up quick: It's still unclear exactly why Johnson abruptly announced her resignation in November, halfway into a five-year contract.

The latest: One of the two subcommittees involved in the search hosted forums last month to gather community input.

  • A member said the search was still in its early stages as of April 17.

Meanwhile, the other subcommittee has retained California-based search firm Education Executives. OSU's spokesperson tells us over email he had no "information about costs invoiced or paid to date."

  • A different firm that helped with the six-month search that landed Johnson cost over $400,000, WCMH-TV reported.

The big picture: Nationwide, a growing number of college presidents have been leaving their jobs after the grueling experience of navigating their schools throughout the pandemic, Axios' Erin Doherty reported last year.

What's next: The university "will continue to follow state law" regarding public meetings, its spokesperson tells Axios, but he didn't "have any additional information to share" about plans for future meetings or an interim president being announced.

  • Education Executives did not return an email seeking comment.

What we're watching: The trustees' next regular meetings are scheduled for mid-May.


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