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Aug. 22, 2002
Vol. 32, No.2

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Georgia provost elected to lead University

Trustees Chair James Patterson introduces Karen Holbrook.


By Jo McCulty

Karen A. Holbrook is OSU's 13th president

Karen Holbrook speaks with Trustees Chair James Patterson and Jacqueline Royster, associate dean of humanities and member of the presidential search committee.

Karen A. Holbrook, Ohio State's newly named president, has hit the ground running. Since Ohio State's Board of Trustees elected her the University's 13th president at a special July 25 meeting, Holbrook has made weekly visits to Ohio State, where she has been meeting with Interim President Edward H. Jennings and other senior University administrators and deans.

Holbrook, who has been senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia since 1998, will assume her new position Oct. 1. Holbrook, 59, was recommended to the Board of Trustees by the 18-member Presidential Search Committee led by Board Chair James F. Patterson. Her appointment was approved unanimously.

"We stated at the beginning of our search process that we wanted to find the best person possible to advance Ohio State's academic excellence and to succeed in positioning the University among the world's truly great public teaching and research institutions," Patterson said. "In Dr. Holbrook, we have found that person and have every confidence that her experience and leadership will create the momentum necessary to fulfill the vision and aspirations outlined in our Academic Plan."

Beyond her unequivocal commitment to academic excellence, Patterson said that search committee members and trustees were impressed with Holbrook's passion for Ohio State. "Her passion, and I do mean passion, was evident in every one of our many conversations. Dr. Holbrook believes that all the right pieces are in place -- strong professional schools, excellent graduate programs and a commitment to further enhancing the undergraduate experience -- for Ohio State to realize its ambitions for greatness," Patterson said.

Patterson emphasized that Holbrook meets or exceeds all the attributes in the University's presidential profile. "Across the board," he said, "Dr. Holbrook best met our search criteria. She brings boundless energy along with integrity, confidence, intellect and judgment, all coupled with superb interpersonal and communicative skills."

Patterson also said that Holbrook was chosen because of her broad experience at three institutions that bear many similarities to Ohio State -- the University of Washington and the University of Florida, as well as the University of Georgia. He noted that while at those institutions, Holbrook earned a reputation for building strong, positive relationships with faculty, staff and students.

At Georgia, Holbrook served for four years as provost, professor of cell biology, and adjunct professor of anatomy and cell biology and medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. She also played a key role in developing Georgia's Strategic Plan, analogous to Ohio State's Academic Plan, which among other things includes a strong commitment to diversity and sets ambitious diversity goals. Working with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, she strongly supported the efforts of faculty and research leaders to successfully expand Georgia's federal research funding. Holbrook was also instrumental in helping create the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute at the University.

At the University of Florida, Holbrook served as vice president for research as well as dean of the graduate school. While there, she organized and chaired an effort co-sponsored with Florida's governor to define a strategy for the future of science and technology in the state.

Patterson said that the search committee reviewed well over 100 candidates, narrowing the list first to about 50 names and meeting face-to-face with more than a dozen individuals. He added that the committee considered a broad and diverse universe of people, looking at presidents and provosts at major public and private universities.

Q & A with the new president




Chemist's NSF funding: Four decades and counting

By Pam Frost Gorder, Research Communications

Sheldon Shore was sitting in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) one day in the early 1970s, when his program officer gave the kind of career advice nobody wants to hear.

"You do very good work, but it's getting harder and harder to fund you," he began.

Basic research, such as Shore's groundbreaking study of compounds called boron hydrides, received generous government sponsorship immediately after the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957. But by the 1970s, a turbulent economy prompted the NSF to favor projects that could provide measurable public benefit in just a few years.

It was then that the NSF program officer suggested that Shore turn away from his career-long devotion to boron and try something new. Another chemist would have left that conversation feeling heartbroken. And maybe Shore did feel that way, a little.

"I was overwhelmed," he said. "But in retrospect, it was probably the best professional advice I ever got."

Shore, then in his 40s, returned to his lab at Ohio State and formulated a plan -- one that not only secured financial support, but also helped him enjoy his career a whole lot more.

He decided to apply what he'd learned about boron to emerging areas of chemistry, ones that dealt with making new materials. His major efforts are now dedicated to organometallic chemistry and lanthanide chemistry, and he has been a major contributor to the area known as transition metal cluster chemistry.

His plan seems to be working. With his latest grant, which runs through 2005, Shore has earned 44 years of NSF funding, on grants for which he is the sole principal investigator. He travels all over the world, working with people he says he never would have met, had he never tried to branch out.

His secret for success? A careful choice of research partners. Shore does basic research, and collaborates with people who develop applications. In doing so, he fills a niche and keeps himself intellectually honest by working only on projects he finds truly interesting.

Since joining the Ohio State faculty in 1957, he's guided more than 70 graduate students to degrees, most of them doctoral. He's received more than a dozen awards and recognitions, including both the Ohio State Distinguished Scholar and Distinguished Lecturer awards, and was named the Charles H. Kimberly Chair of Chemistry. He's even earned 12 patents, what many would consider the ultimate prize for applied research. Meanwhile, he carries on his studies of boron. Grants from agencies such as the Army Research Office (ARO) and the Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) have supported that work.

"So it's not as if I sold out, you see," he said, and laughed.

Most of his NSF grants supported two- or three-year projects. The first, a two-year grant from 1961, gave Shore $23,000 to study boron-oxygen heterocylces, ring-shaped molecules that today serve as platforms for building chemical agents for medicine and industry.

The latest grant, a three-year contract for nearly $500,000, fuels a long-standing collaboration with a French research institute.

Larry Anderson, professor of chemistry, said NSF grant programs are among the most competitive in the nation. In inorganic chemistry, only a few grants are offered each year. "To achieve 44 years of funding means he's been a leader in his field for a very long time," Anderson said.



Presidential testimony

By Kevin Fitzsimons

Interim President Edward H. Jennings testifies before the Select Committee on Higher Education of the Ohio House Finance Committee. Jennings, Provost Edward J. Ray and William J. Shkurti, senior vice president for business and finance, were among those discussing the state's education funding formula.












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