In February 2021, Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson announced a new initiative called RAISE (for race, inclusion, and social equity) to hire 150 new faculty. At least 50 of the RAISE faculty were to be scientists, artists, and scholars whose work addresses social equity and racial disparities, and 100 were to be “underrepresented and BIPOC hires.” In so doing President Johnson said she was “following one of the initial draft recommendations from our Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities and our academic deans.”
The announcement raised a number of questions, including whether the president had usurped the authority reserved to the faculty under the University’s By-Laws “to establish educational and academic policies.” National Association of Scholars member and OSU Professor Emeritus Boris Mityagin sent President Johnson a letter requesting a copy of the initial draft recommendations on which she claimed to rely.
In October 2021, a University officer sent Prof. Mityagin a letter saying that “the completed report” was not available. Prof. Mityagin then sent a new letter stating that he had not requested the completed report but only the “initial draft recommendations” cited by President Johnson. That December, Prof. Mityagin received another letter from the University’s Office of Compliance and Integrity [sic] saying “We have found no responsive records to your request for ‘THE INITIAL DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS.’”
So this March, Prof. Mityagin sent a third letter (reproduced in the Appendix below) suggesting that the failure to find the initial draft indicated that all copies had been destroyed, or that it never existed, or that the Office of Compliance and Integrity was flouting the law. He asked President Johnson which hypothesis was true to her knowledge.
Clearly the University is giving Prof. Mityagin the run-around and flouting Ohio’s freedom of information laws. Were all copies of the initial draft recommendations destroyed or hidden? Did the initial draft recommendations never exist, and President Johnson just made them up?
This behavior is hardly unusual. Universities now routinely trumpet all the great things they are doing for “diversity, inclusion, and equity,” while hiding all the details that might be embarrassing. The Ohio Association of Scholars will continue to try to bring this information to light.
Appendix: March 2022 Letter to President Johnson
TO: Kristina Johnson, President, the Ohio State University
Dear Professor Johnson,
A year ago, on February 18, 2021, in your Annual University Address you announced a sweeping set of educational, academic, and hiring policies which I quote:
(AA) “First, following one of the initial draft recommendations from our Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities and our academic deans, led by Executive Dean Gretchen Ritter of Arts and Sciences, we will hire 150 new faculty within a new initiative called RAISE — short for race, inclusion and social equity.
At least 50 of our RAISE faculty will be scientists, artists and scholars whose work addresses social equity and racial disparities in fields such as health care, education, justice and public safety, resources and the environment, the arts and creative expression, economic opportunity and leadership — building on what is already world-class scholarship across our colleges.
The RAISE initiative will also include the goal of 100 underrepresented and BIPOC hires in all fields of scholarship.”
After your Address I raised many questions but you have answered none of them. I will remind you of two of them.
1. If a layman reads the OSU Bylaws Articles 3335-1-04(B) and -1-03(A), he/she would conclude that the OSU President does not have “the legislative authority to establish educational and academic policies” because such authority “is vested in the university faculty,” The article 3335-1-03(A) clarifies this with a detailed description for “the president” :
** It shall be the duty of the president to enforce the bylaws, rules and regulations of the board of trustees, and, as a member of the faculty, to interpret to the board proposals and actions of the faculty.**
It is clear that ‘To interpret… proposals and actions of the faculty’ is different from establishing policies on what faculty have to do.
One could conclude that you violated the OSU Bylaws, i. e., laws of the state of Ohio.
2. Even in your attempts to justify your actions you refer not to the Faculty or the Senate but to bodies set up by the administration, consisting of administrators and talking only to other administrators.
From the viewpoint of a transparent administration, why have neither the recommendations of the Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities, nor the recommendations of the group of academic Deans led by G. Ritter, ever been made public?
In the same vein, responses (to Public Record Requests) made by the OSU Office of Compliance and Integrity on your behalf were disingenuous:
— December 22, 2021
“We have found no responsive records to your request for “THE INITIAL DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS as you [President Johnson] refered to on February 18, 2021” in the State of the University address.”
— October 2021
From: Hainer, Scott
Date: Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 6:31 PM
Subject: RE: Public Records Request 21-10 [22-0249]
To: Boris Mityagin
After working with our university colleagues, we have found no responsive records to your request. Specifically, the completed report and recommendations of the Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities is not available at this time.
These responses lead to strange conjectures:
(A) Between February and December 2021, the documents with recommendations. you mentioned (see (AA) above), have been destroyed. Why, by whom?
(B) These documents did not exist in February 2021; unintentionally you mentioned them by mistake.
(C) The Office of Compliance and Integrity on your behalf violates the Ohio laws on Public Records and declines to provide them to an Ohio resident on his request.
(D) something else?
Which one is true, to your best knowledge?
Upper Arlington, Ohio