Vol. 38, No. 18
New trustees chair indebted to university
G. Gilbert Cloyd, who will begin his two-year term as the Board of Trustees’ chair in May, traces his career with one of the world’s largest companies back to his humble beginnings at Ohio State.
I come from a good, hard-working family in rural Ohio, but a family that could not fund a college education. After high school, I did not have the financial ability to begin college studies on the main campus. I was able to start at the Lima campus in 1963 when it had evening classes at Lima Senior High School. This enabled me to work during the day and go to class in the evening. I later transitioned to the main campus where my interests in biological sciences increased. This interest, plus my rural heritage, caused me to enter veterinary medicine. While in the College of Veterinary Medicine, I developed a deep interest in research and pathology.
At every step of the way in my education, I found wonderful support from the faculty with doors always open to discuss career opportunities. I believe I found the best of both worlds, that is, a first-rate academic research institution with close “family-like” faculty to help me along the way.
What is the importance of Ohio State in your life?
Ohio State has enabled my professional career. I not only received a great education, but from the faculty, I also received a provocative stimulus to continually learn. This combination of a great education and incessant curiosity has served me very well. It has allowed me to move beyond my formal training in veterinary medicine to other exciting adventuresome activities in research and development. I now have the pleasure to work with colleagues at 28 different technical centers in 11 countries around the world across a very broad range of science and technology. For someone interested in research, it is truly the candy shop for a small child.
You’ve traveled the world in your role at Procter & Gamble. What is Ohio State’s reputation?
I find Ohio State has a very good reputation around the world, and that it continually gets better. It is well recognized as a world-class academic research institution. This includes the highest quality in its graduates and leading-edge research in a number of fields. All of this is consistent with the mission of a stellar land-grant university. With the path we are following, I expect the reputation of Ohio State throughout the country and the world to continue to grow.
Do you see the Board of Trustees chair role changing now that it’s an elected position?
I don’t see the role changing. The principal role of the chair is to facilitate the work of the full board. I do believe our board will face increasing challenges as the complexity of issues the university faces continues to grow. That fact, plus the fact the size of the board has increased, resulted in our work with Professor Richard Chait at Harvard. As was outlined in the December meeting, the board is working with Chait to define the structures and work processes that will allow us to become even more efficient and productive.
What is your first priority as the new chair?
My first priority at this time is to help us identify and recruit a president to succeed Karen Holbrook. Part of this will include facilitating the transition for the new president.
What can faculty and staff expect under your leadership?
Faculty and staff can expect my total dedication to this great university. This includes close attention to ensure we have the systems in place, including compensation, to provide them with a very professionally rewarding environment. The major reason I wanted to be on the Board of Trustees was to help pay back the deep debt I feel to Ohio State. That indebtedness includes payback to the people who make Ohio State a great university and the current student population seeking their quality education.
What challenges does Ohio State face in the future?
Ohio State faces many challenges, and they also are opportunities. First, we must enhance the quality of our students and ensure full access. Ohio State treats this as an “and,” not an “either/or.” We want both and we will have very proactive programs to deliver both.
On the financial side, Ohio State will continue to face decreasing state support. This creates great challenges in maintaining the quality of faculty, staff and programs we want, while also desiring to avoid continued increases in tuition. It will require creativity and sound management practices to effectively navigate these choppy waters. The university has many growth opportunities in research, academic programs and services. Being appropriately selective in our growth opportunities will be a challenge, but focus will assure continued progress to greatness.
Academically, we need a high standard of excellence for all of our programs, undergraduate and graduate. We need to have top-quality faculty and appropriate support for the programs. In research, Ohio State has made great progress in program funding. We can expect continued tightness in funding and the competition to become even more intense. However, we plan to continue our growth in research.
And finally, as Tom Friedman has noted, “The world is flat.” We live in a truly global environment on almost all fronts. Certainly this applies to education, research, societal needs and commerce. Ohio State, with its great capabilities, will continue to grow as a leader on the global stage.