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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The search for a director of Ohio State University’s state-mandated intellectual diversity center will soon be underway.

Ohio State’s board of trustees will vote this week to appoint seven scholars to the Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture, and Society’s advisory council, which will be the flagship intellectual diversity center now required by state law. On Wednesday, the board’s Talent, Compensation and Governance committee voted to forward nominees to the full board for review – scholars who will need final approval by the Ohio Senate to begin their roles.

The seven appointees to Ohio State’s intellectual diversity center are:

  • Robert George – Law and politics professor, director of James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University
  • Vladimir Kogan – Political science professor, director of undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, Ohio State University
  • Lucas Morel – Professor of politics and head of the Politics Department, Washington and Lee University
  • Colleen Sheehan – American politics professor, Arizona State University
  • Bradley Smith – law professor, Capital University
  • David Van Slyke – Dean of Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Jean Yarbrough – Social sciences and government professor, Bowdoin College

“The center will be an important part of Ohio state’s land grant mission following up on the university’s motto, ‘education for citizenship,’ and the university’s deep commitment to the freedom of expression and intellectual diversity,” said John Zeiger, governance committee chair.

Ohio State and four other public universities ordered by the state to develop intellectual diversity centers have until Nov. 20 to name their respective advisory councils, which will be tasked with conducting a nationwide search for the directors of their centers. The centers, which will also be created at the University of Toledo, Miami University, University of Cincinnati and Cleveland State University, are supposed to “conduct teaching and research in the historical ideas, traditions, and texts” of the U.S. and “affirm the value of intellectual diversity in higher education” through promoting the free exchange of ideas and opinions.

The establishment of the centers was mandated under the state budget, which allocates $10 million to Ohio State over the next two years to develop the center with at least 15 tenure-track faculty positions. As required by law, the Salmon P. Chase Center will be housed in the College of Public Affairs building but will be independent from the college, with its director reporting directly to the university president.

Republican lawmakers have promoted the mandatory creation of the centers as a way to combat perceived liberal bias on university campuses. First conceived of in Sen. Jerry Cirino’s (R-Kirtland) Higher Education Enhancement Act, the centers became their own legislation in Cirino’s Senate Bill 117, only to be folded into the state budget after passing the Senate.

“These are centers that are separated from their university, that, because of their design, are able to hire people and will hire people who think freely for themselves,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said in August. 

The law allows for only one advisory council member to be affiliated with the university while recommending that at least three be from Ohio. Three council members will serve two-year terms, while the other four will serve four-year terms.

Zeiger said the board hopes to have a center director in place by the start of the next academic year. The director will be required to submit an annual report to trustees and the legislature outlining the center’s work in promoting intellectual diversity and civic engagement.

The University of Toledo, which will house its center in its law school, named Lee Strang as the center director in late August. A spokesperson for Cleveland State said it hopes to have advisory council appointees finalized by the end of the year. Other universities did not provide updates about their advisory council searches by the time of publication.