The Ohio State University Board of Trustees has appointed Kristina M. Johnson, PhD, as the 16th president in university history. Johnson, who has served as chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY) since 2017, brings more than 30 years of experience as an academic, business, and policy leader.
“We are pleased beyond measure to welcome Dr. Johnson to Ohio State,” said board chair Gary R. Heminger. “Her range of knowledge, service, and accomplishments across sectors and throughout her career is nothing short of remarkable.
“She is uniquely positioned to make an immediate impact—building on Ohio State’s momentum and advancing our mission to uplift lives through academic excellence.”
As SUNY’s chancellor, Johnson led a system of 64 public colleges and universities—including five academic health centers and three hospital systems—with 1.3 million students, 30,000 faculty, and 90,000 employees overall. Prior to that, she founded and served as CEO of several successful science and technology companies, served as under secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and held academic leadership positions at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Johnson has close family ties to Ohio State and Ohio. Her grandfather graduated from Ohio State in 1896, played right guard on one of the early football teams, and was a member of the Tesla Club. Family lore has it that Johnson’s grandfather met her grandmother on the Columbus campus. Johnson has deep family roots in Ohio.
“Ohio State has always been a special place to me—well beyond its standing as one of the most respected teaching, research, and patient-care institutions in the world,” Johnson said. “I am humbled to be selected to lead this great land-grant university, and I look forward to meeting with students, faculty, and staff to begin our work together.”
At SUNY, Johnson launched a system-wide student success initiative that increased two-year community college graduation rates by 22%, cut in half the number of students requiring remediation before starting college credit-bearing coursework, saved students $47 million in textbook costs over three years, and established a goal to hire 1,000 underrepresented minorities and women in STEM by 2030. She worked with New York’s Empire State Development to form industry partnerships with IBM, Applied Materials, and Cree totaling $4.6 billion, with associated programs that helped advance SUNY research expenditures by $100 million year over year. Johnson also partnered with the New York Power Authority to procure 100% renewable electricity at SUNY by 2023.
In her role as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Johns Hopkins, she led a university-wide strategic planning process, stood up the Carey Business School, and launched the MOSAIC Initiative to recruit underrepresented faculty. As dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, she led a strategic planning process that increased undergraduate enrollment by 20%, doubled the number of graduate students, tripled research expenditures, increased the school’s endowment tenfold, and led to the construction of the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences. Also at Duke, Johnson worked to increase the percentage of women faculty from 6% to 19%. She hired 55 faculty members, including 19 early-career award winners and three members of the National Academy of Engineering.
Johnson will begin her tenure as Ohio State president on Sept. 1, 2020. She succeeds Michael V. Drake, who has served as president since June 2014.
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