See a report on President Kristina Johnson’s resignation above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After less than three years at Ohio State University, President Kristina M. Johnson will resign at the end of the school year.
About halfway through her five-year contract, Johnson’s short tenure was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, continued legal battles with survivors of former Ohio State physician Richard Strauss and the fatal shooting of a student near a fraternity park. It also included Johnson’s ambitious goals to achieve carbon neutrality on campus by 2040, hire diverse tenure-track faculty and implement a program for students to graduate debt-free in four years.
A source told NBC4 that Johnson was originally set to announce her resignation Tuesday after a request from the university’s board of trustees, with Johnson allegedly having a contentious relationship with several members of the board. Additional sources said Johnson is being held personally responsible for the departure of at least two high-ranking university officials.
In her resignation announcement Monday, Johnson said she “made the difficult decision to step down” after commencement in May.
“We want to thank the amazing students, faculty and staff of Ohio State, the alumni, parents, supporters and all of Buckeye Nation, including my cabinet and the Board of Trustees, for the camaraderie you have shown us as we reached new heights together,” Johnson said. “We wish all of you — and The Ohio State University — the very best in the future.”
Below are key moments from Johnson’s presidency at Ohio State.
June 3: Kristina M. Johnson is confirmed to be Ohio State’s 16th president. A letter to Johnson from the Board of Trustees outlined her five-year contract, with an annual base salary of $900,000, annual performance bonuses of up to 25 percent of her salary, and more than $120,000 in additional research and fringe benefits.
“Selecting the University’s next president is one of the Board’s most important responsibilities, and we are extremely pleased with our selection of you,” Gary Heminger, then-chairman of the board, said in the May 2020 letter. “We are confident that your leadership, extensive experience, ability to build bridges with federal and state leaders, and proven strategic vision will advance the University towards continued prominence and enrich our dynamic community of students, faculty and staff.”
Johnson would become Ohio State’s second female president and first openly gay president.
September 1: Johnson officially starts her role as president.
October 11: Ohio State fifth-year student Chase Meola is fatally shot outside a fraternity party near campus. His death would spark a movement of parents and students calling for increased safety measures. Five days later, Johnson announces a new task force to address safety concerns in the University District.
“We lost a beloved student to an act of senseless, criminal violence this week,” Johnson said in a university-wide email. “Chase Meola was an extraordinary friend to so many in our Buckeye community.”
December 1: Johnson announces the upcoming resignation of Bruce McPheron, executive vice president and provost of Ohio State. He will remain at the university as an entomology professor following his June departure from the administration.
December 3: Johnson announces that Susan Basso, senior vice president of talent, culture and human resources, will resign.
February 18: Johnson issues her first State of the University Address. She touches on the university’s COVID-19 response to date, including establishing a testing center at Jesse Owens North Recreation Center, reducing in-person class sizes to fewer than 50 and requiring masks and physical distancing on campus.
In her address, Johnson announces the RAISE initiative to hire 150 new faculty whose work focuses on social equity and racial disparities, with 100 of those hires coming from underrepresented backgrounds in their respective fields. She also proposes the creation of the Presidential Research Excellence fund, which would support innovation and research into emerging fields over the following decade.
She also announces her plans to offer students the ability to graduate from college with no debt.
April 18: Chitt Fest, an annual block party on Chittenden Avenue, turned destructive. At least a half dozen cars were flipped over, with some being set on fire and others having their windows smashed in. Several members of Ohio State’s administration issued scathing statements about the incident.
In a tweet the following afternoon, Johnson wrote, “Last night’s behavior was and destruction of property just off campus are unacceptable, and for our students who were involved, this does not represent who we are as Buckeyes.”
August 19: The Board of Trustees approves a $27,000 raise and $263,500 performance bonus for Johnson, bringing her annual salary to $927,000 and her 2021 earnings to $1.4 million.
August 24: In a university-wide announcement, Johnson announces that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all students, faculty and staff.
September 1: Johnson announces that Dr. Harold Paz, executive vice president and chancellor for health affairs at Ohio State and chief executive officer at the Wexner Medical Center, will resign the following month.
September 22: A judge throws out several lawsuits filed against Ohio State by victims of former physician Richard Strauss. In his opinion, the judge sharply criticizes the university’s failure to address and prevent Strauss’s abuse and denounces the state legislature for not changing the statute of limitations.
“At all times since the filing of these cases, the Ohio legislature had the power, but not the will, to change the statute of limitations for these Plaintiffs,” the decision reads. Attorneys for nearly 100 victims would file an appeal in the weeks after the decision.
November 5: Johnson announces the launch of Buckeye Block Watch, a group to patrol the off-campus area and report suspicious activity in partnership with the Community Crime Patrol.
November 19: During her investiture ceremony, Johnson announces an $800 million fundraising effort to provide scholarships, paid internships, grant assistance and other resources for students to graduate debt-free from the university. Dubbed the Scarlet & Gray Advantage, the program would offer financial literacy lessons and funds to low- and middle-income students, starting with the following fall’s first-year class.
January 21: Johnson joins Gov. Mike DeWine and leaders from Intel to announce a $20-billion investment to build two computer chip factories in Ohio. Ohio State will partner with other Ohio public universities and the state’s department of higher education on projects aimed at “preparing a workforce to support the semiconductor industry for decades to come.”
March 17: Intel announces it will invest $50 million in higher education institutions, including Ohio State, to create curriculums, establish faculty training and conduct research supporting semiconductor development.
March 24: The University Senate approves a resolution to change Ohio State’s carbon-neutrality goal to net-zero emissions by 2040 instead of 2050. Johnson previously discussed her intention to see carbon neutrality by 2040.
In a university-wide announcement following the first death, Melissa Shivers, then-senior vice president for student life, asked students to be wary of fake Adderall pills and to consider carrying Narcan and fentanyl testing strips.
May 19: Johnson and her wife, Veronica, announce a $1 million donation to establish two endowed scholarships for student-athletes and first-generation students.
August 4: Ohio State announces a partnership with 11 midwestern universities to form the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics.
September 14: A three-judge panel overturns a lower court decision to throw out Strauss victims’ cases against Ohio State, citing evidence that the university concealed abuse from students.
September 16: Ohio State recognizes its inaugural class of the Scarlet and & Gray Advantage program. The first cohort includes 125 first-year undergraduates who will be able to graduate without debt, as long as they maintain full-time enrollment, take financial literacy lessons and pursue paid internships or work opportunities.
September 26: Ohio State requests an en banc review by all 16 judges on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after the court ruled Strauss victims’ lawsuits against the university could proceed.
November 28: Johnson confirms she will resign at the end of the academic year.