Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I often have said that to be a college president, you need a thick skin, a good sense of humor, and nerves like sewer pipes. This has never been more true.

The clarion calls to provide outstanding education at an affordable cost are reaching crescendo at the very time our traditional funding model is waning.

The necessity to find solutions to the world's most pressing needs -- food security, alternative energies, medical breakthroughs -- has never been more urgent.

And the road maps for navigating the times ahead are both contentious and indistinct.

As one of the country's largest land-grant universities, Ohio State must play a critical role in moving our country forward. And we are utilizing a multifaceted funding approach to do so -- innovative financial strategies, streamlined operations, and private support.

On October 4, Ohio State launched the largest fundraising campaign in our school's history.

It was a singularly important moment for our University.

Founded when Abraham Lincoln believed education could lead the nation out of its darkest days, Ohio State now provides a powerful platform of interdisciplinary academic programs, world-class scholars, outstanding students, and extensive research capabilities.

We have the talent, the intellect, and the commitment in place to reveal ideas and solutions that will have enormous impact for hundreds of millions of people. Quite simply, we have the potential to transform lives.

The public launch of our campaign was a night to remember and to share with our entire Ohio State community. We heard stories about Ohio State's impact in the world--from soil scientist Rattan Lal's research to reduce hunger on the other side of the globe to Chuck Csuri's pioneering work in computer graphics. And we heard how medical treatments at Ohio State are changing people's lives every day.

To top off the evening and engage our students and extended community, the Ohio State Marching Band joined O.A.R., a nationally known rock band that got its start at Ohio State, for a rousing concert at the center of our Columbus campus.

On that night, in particular, I was reminded that our 140-year-old University stands on the shoulders of giants -- scholars and teachers, mentors and benefactors, and friends and alumni from across the country and around the world.

Private giving has never been more critical if we are to fulfill our land-grant promise to enrich and enhance lives without additional public funding.

Our University's ability to garner private support will enable us to secure educational opportunities for future generations, to cure disease, and to meet the enormous challenges we face as a global society.

And while the way forward is precarious, I believe that moments of greatest challenge are often moments of greatest opportunity.

I believe that it is higher education's purpose and calling to keep open the door to the American dream.

And I believe, as Lincoln advised in the midst of much greater turmoil, that we must rely on the better angels of our nature to guide the way.