Ohio State President Kristina Johnson confirms she's made 'difficult decision' to resign
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Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson confirmed to the Dispatch report hours earlier on Monday night that she was stepping down.
The board of trustees asked 65-year-old Johnson to resign after an outside firm conducted investigations into concerns raised by employees, administration sources told The Dispatch. What those concerns were and the details of the investigation aren't clear.
Johnson's last day as the university's 16th president is expected to be at the end of the academic year, the sources said.
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Johnson issued a statement Monday night that she was stepping down, following The Dispatch's report.
"Since I arrived at Ohio State University in August 2020, we have been able to accomplish so much on so many different fronts, despite significant adversity, including the COVID-19 pandemic," Johnson said. “I am very proud of everyone we have achieved together. It has been a privilege to serve this incredible university and I am honored to work as part of this brilliant, dedicated and passionate community.
"I made the difficult decision to step down as president after the start of the school year," she said. "This will facilitate the search for the next president and give me ample time to help with a seamless transition. "
dr Hiroyuki Fujita, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement: "On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Dr. Johnson for her dedication to the university, particularly her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate her on her many successes and wish her all the best for her professional future.”
Johnson will depart about 2½ years into her five-year contract. At the time of her departure, Johnson will serve the second-shortest term as Ohio State president behind former Ohio State President Walter Q. Scott, who served from 1881-1883. This does not include incumbent or interim presidents.
The Ohio State Board of Trustees will begin searching for the university's 17th president. The university said it will share more information about the search and how the community can participate in early 2023.
The Ohio State President did not have a review in November
The Ohio State Board of Trustees conducts an annual review of the university's president each fiscal year (which runs from July to June), and the trustees work with the president to establish a set of goals, according to Johnson's 2020 offer letter. Those goals are used as the basis for their annual assessment, and these assessments are typically shared at the November Talent, Compensation and Governance Committee meeting.
There was no such review for Johnson at the committee meeting in November of that year. Instead, the trustees met in an executive session for almost two hours before briefly discussing other personnel actions.
In August 2021, following her first year at the helm of the university, the Talent, Compensation & Governance Committee of the Board of Trustees approved Johnson a $27,000 salary increase, equal to 3% of her base salary, and a $263,500 bonus grant. At the time, Johnson was earning $900,000 a year under her contract.
She currently earns $927,000 annually as of September 30, according to the university's salary database.
When former Ohio State President Michael V. Drake announced his retirement in November 2019, it was after a committee of university trustees gave him a positive performance review and approved a 2.5% increase, bringing his annual salary to nearly $892,000 US dollars per year increased. However, unlike in previous years, they did not approve a bonus.
In addition to her base salary, Johnson also receives $200,000 a year in her college retirement account, $50,000 a year to support her research and education, and an annual allowance of $85,000 for other expenses like a car and tax services.
Kristina Johnson, President of Ohio State University
How long has Kristina Johnson been President of the State of Ohio?
Johnson arrived in Ohio in May 2020 from the State University of New York, where she had served as the system's chancellor for three years. Her first official day as President was September 1, 2020.
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Prior to that, she was Dean of Engineering at Duke University for eight years and Provost at Johns Hopkins University for two years. She then became a top official in the US Department of Energy during the Obama administration and started a few for-profit companies.
In her first state of the university address in February 2021, Johnson set out ambitious goals for the university to achieve over the next decade. Her plans included creating Scarlet and Gray Advantage, an initiative to offer a debt-free bachelor's degree on a large scale; Hired at least 350 new tenure-track faculty members and doubled university research spending.
At the time, Johnson called these plans not just goals, but a personal mission.
In her statement, Johnson said her time in Ohio State also brought her "a lot of personal satisfaction."
"Veronica and I quickly felt welcomed as full members of the campus and local communities," she said. “We want to thank Ohio State's amazing students, faculty and staff, alumni, parents, supporters and everyone at Buckeye Nation, including my Cabinet and Board of Trustees, for the camaraderie you have shown us as we reached new heights together .
"We wish you all - and Ohio State University - the very best in the future."
Sheridan Hendrix is a college reporter for The Columbus Dispatch. Sign up for their Mobile Newsroom newsletter here and for Extra Credit, their educational newsletter, here.
This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State President Kristina Johnson confirms her resignation
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