Almost a century-and-a-half ago, Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes, who would soon become our 19th U.S. president, championed legislation to establish the first land-grant institution of higher learning in Ohio. This special place, to become The Ohio State University, would serve Ohioans through excellence in teaching, learning and research. It was a grand and bold idea — one that remains alive and well today.
I was continually reminded of this fact while visiting with students, families, local businesses and community organizations in cities and villages across six Ohio counties. Our university’s annual summer state tours are a wonderful opportunity to see our land-grant mission in action — from partnerships that build healthier communities to Buckeye students, alumni and supporters whose commitment and skills help keep Ohio’s economic engine strong.
Our most recent tour featured a stop in Fremont at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, where students, friends and Brutus helped kick off our year-long sesquicentennial celebration. Ohio State was founded in 1870 with Hayes’ help — and while we may be turning 150 next year, I can tell you that Brutus appears not to have aged a day.
Our tour wasn’t all food, fun and history, however. Some of it was food, fun and fellowship — like surprising current and soon-to-be students at the Red Pig Inn in Ottawa or cooling off at the Jer-Zee Drive-In in Marion. This local business, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, has employed many Buckeyes over the years, including current Marching Band member Audrey Watkins. She also makes a great Buckeye Sundae.
In Napoleon, we toured the Campbell Soup Supply Company plant, the company’s largest U.S. manufacturing location. Employees here help feed millions around the world, and Campbell’s supports internships, career fairs and research at Ohio State. Marathon Petroleum’s headquarters in Findlay offered another opportunity to connect with more than 100 alumni and students. We were hosted by CEO Gary Heminger — a member of Ohio State’s Board of Trustees — and our company tour guides included Ohio State graduates from 1991 to 2017! The university continues to focus on workforce development in the innovation economy. Of the 84 in-demand jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree identified by the state, our spring graduates accepted employment in 98% of those areas.
At our North Central Agricultural Research Station near Fremont — one of 12 such locations in the state — we met with area farmers and faculty research scientists from OSU Extension and our College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Our shared goal: elevate the ways we support the health and well-being of families here in Ohio and across the nation.
That same focus drives our work to create breakthrough health care solutions. Late last year, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and Mercy Health launched the Healthy State Alliance. Early efforts will focus on addressing the opioid epidemic and cancer and transplant care. This effort, which will provide increased access to more than 600 points of care in Ohio, was a topic of discussion during our visit to Mercy Health Tiffin Hospital — where we also participated in a service project at the 22-acre Mercy Community Nature Preserve.
With extension offices, regional campuses and Buckeye alumni living and working in all of Ohio’s 88 counties, Ohio State’s land-grant mission can be seen throughout our state.
It is our great privilege to serve the citizens of Ohio, and we are ever-grateful for the partnerships and collaborations you continue to advance and support. Go Bucks!
Michael V. Drake has been president of The Ohio State University since 2014.