Today's Update: Thursday, February 25

February 25, 2021

Dear Student Life Team, The university’s Board of Trustees has been meeting this week. 

For me, one of their most significant actions was to recognize an extraordinary colleague, leader and man. The Board this afternoon unanimously approved the naming of the Willie J. Young, Sr. Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement department in Student Life.  

I still get emotional when I think of Willie, his kind soul and big heart - and how he had a nickname for so many of us (mine was “Doc”.) It means a great deal to me, and I think to most of us, that the President and trustees would choose to honor him in this way. He left a larger-than-life legacy at this university, and it is good to know that his memory is now a permanent fixture in the name of the department he served so well. We continue our plans to celebrate Willie’s memory when we are safe to come together in person, and I will keep you updated as information is available. In the meantime, you are always welcome to add your own memories and read about others’ at   

In addition to Willie’s wonderful honor, the board meeting was also an opportunity to talk about the Scarlet and Great things the Student Life team is doing.  

At the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee meeting yesterday, I did a presentation on “Out of Classroom Experience in a Post(-ish) COVID-19 World.”  

It was an opportunity to update the trustees on our approach to leading through the pandemic, and how we are using those successes to plan for next academic year. I also talked about the importance of providing opportunities for our students to connect with the university, and each other. While we haven’t been able to do much “in person” for the past year, we are still committed to that model. It is at the core of the Ohio State experience.  

With that in mind, I passed along a quote from something a student wrote to me recently, “I’d argue that it’s more fun to be on campus with some extra rules rather than being stuck at home without friends and professors to interact with.”  

As I told the trustees, the way we deliver the Buckeye experience continues to evolve in ways that make our university ever-more accessible. We must always remember at the core of the experience sought by and delivered to hundreds of thousands since our founding includes moments on our campuses that withstand time and change. To be clear, the in-person experience, though complemented undeniably by technology, IS the iconic Ohio State experience and what sets us apart from all other institutions. 

I also updated the board members on our Student Life organizational changes, and how we are aligning our division’s work and structure around six core areas of focus: Student Engagement and Support, Health and Well-being, Residential Experience, Academic Partnership and Career Success, Belonging and Inclusion and Administrative Excellence.

I will share about these topics and more at our All Team meeting next week. It will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, March 1. I’ll send the Zoom link later, but I want to make sure you have it on your calendar.  

Also on Monday, I will talk about plans for summer and autumn at the university-wide COVID-19 virtual Town Hall. The session starts at 5:30 p.m.  

I would be Scarlet and Grateful if you would join me for both.