State of the College 2021

State of the College 2021

Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), delivered the State of the College Address from the new CFAES Wooster Science Building with a YouTube Premiere on Jan. 22.

Here are 10 highlights:

  • Innovation at Waterman: In 2020, we broke ground on the Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex on our Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory. Just south of Waterman, CFAES will serve as one of three anchor colleges at the university’s new Interdisciplinary Research Facility, which will focus on health-related research in Ohio State’s future West Campus Innovation District.
  • Robust Financial Position: Our college is strong. We ended fiscal year 2020 with a solid equity position of $111.9 million. Of this, $76 million was nonbase funding (earnings, gifts, endowments, grants/contracts) and record years in fundraising commitments ($40 million) and grant expenditures ($45 million).
  • Impactful Research: Our research portfolio continues to be robust, with more than 1,000 active projects, almost 200 capacity-funded projects, and over $50 million in competitive research grants. Current research includes identifying a novel antimicrobial from an artisanal cheese that may be safe to use as a probiotic for food preservation and promoting human health.

  • Student Success: Our student retention and graduation rates are among the best at Ohio State. Ninety-three percent of all CFAES students are retained to their second year, and our six-year graduation rates have exceeded the university’s average since 2012. Since 2010, our four-year graduation rates have substantially exceeded the university’s average.

“It’s clear that these are challenging times … but our college is ready. Our people are dedicated, productive, and engaged.”Cathann Kress, CFAES Dean
  • Scholarship Funding: Our college awarded the largest amount of scholarship funding within the university—more than $2.8 million in 2019–20.
  • Assisting in the Pandemic: We managed and responded quickly during the pandemic. CFAES researchers worked with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center physicians on COVID-19 antibody blood tests and tested polymer face masks to protect against COVID-19. 
  • Ohio State University Extension’s Statewide Impact: We increased podcast series on issues affecting agriculture, and we offered nearly 200 virtual winter programs on topics ranging from water quality to improving soil health. When county fairs were scaled back, OSU Extension-Cuyahoga County 4-H created a “Fair-in-a-Box,” with supplies for a car parade, club competitions, and service projects.

  • Commitment to Diversity: Our college is working to ensure that we become a just and equitable learning community. We continue our work through the launching of our Diversity Equity and Inclusion Action Council and our conviction that racism and inequality have no place in CFAES.
  • Attracting More Students: Our Enrollment and Recruitment Task Force is creating the foundation for increasing our knowledge and understanding of our enrollment trends and data, engaging faculty in considering our goals for student engagement, and reviewing our enrollment plan for implementation across the college.
  • Reaching More: In 2021, we anticipate the development and rollout of a CFAES outward-facing, noncredit course catalog and marketing effort to engage even more people across the state.