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Campus & Community

President Johnson answers questions from you

She shares the importance of optimism, how service is in action at Ohio State and why a rigid schedule can help you.

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson, a white woman with short blond hair, smiles and poses for the camera with a student

First-year Buckeye Dakota Davis catches a photo with President Kristina M. Johnson during her visit with incoming students this past summer at Bellbrook (Ohio) High School. (Photo by Logan Wallace)

  • What guidance do you have for first-year students, and how would you describe the importance of optimism in the world today? — Thomas Kyllo ’81 MS

    I believe it’s hard to succeed without optimism. While I was in college, I came to realize after a few setbacks that if I didn’t believe in myself, who would?

    How do you develop an optimistic outlook? I encourage students to get as much as possible out of their college experiences — not to do anything halfway.

    I recently visited with about 20 Buckeye-bound high school seniors near Dayton, and it was invigorating to see their enthusiasm and passion for Ohio State. On the same trip to Ohio’s Miami Valley, I connected with many alumni who embrace the university’s mission and know the importance of staying hopeful during difficult times.

  • How are you sustaining and promoting our tradition of service at Ohio State? — Roberto Torres ’86 MS, ’91 PhD

    One really fun aspect of Ohio State is that its size and scope allow us to serve at scale. Service is ingrained in who we are and what we do. For example, every time we go to a bowl game, we include a day of service, and we’re always looking forward to those opportunities to serve. During this year’s Rose Bowl trip, Ohio State and University of Utah students, faculty and staff packed enough food to stock the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank for a week.

    Through an effort called Healing All Hearts, the College of Nursing is fighting disparities in cardiovascular disease treatment through research and outreach. Buck-I-SERV, our alternative break program, is another great example of Buckeyes stepping up to help others, one that has endured for two decades.

    And I am always thrilled to highlight the great work of OSU Extension and what it means to serve the health and well-being of all Ohioans. Through these coordinated efforts and the individual actions of Buckeyes everywhere, the Ohio State tradition of service is evident every day.

  • What is your best advice for maintaining a healthy work-life balance? — Sabrina Jackson ’19

    Make a plan — commit to a schedule, put it on a calendar and stick to it. I had a standing dinner with my mother on Thursdays and church on Sundays. I never missed those visits, and everything else just worked in around them.

  • In the wake of the pandemic and with Ohio State being such a large university, how do you work to keep the Buckeye community together? — Jackson Howard ’20

    As you know, Buckeyes rally around those in need. For example, we are really coming together around the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program to help future students pursue their degrees debt-free.

    Many Buckeyes also connect around sports and the arts. We have the 100th anniversary celebration of the ’Shoe this year; the Timashev Family Music Building dedication in October; and Ohio State’s growing Arts District, which will help students and alumni come together. And Wexner Center for the Arts unveiled a new partnership this year that allows museum guests to visit free of charge, which I hope will lead more alumni to visit.

    And I am so proud of how we came together to keep each other safe and healthy during COVID, which allowed our campuses to remain open and students to continue to pursue their higher education dreams.

Ask away! 

Do you have a question for President Kristina M. Johnson? Email it our way at

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