Omar Abdul-Rahim / Sun File Photo

Gretchen Ritter '83 will be leaving Cornell University for a position at Ohio State University.

June 1, 2019

Former A&S Dean Gretchen Ritter ’83 to Depart Cornell for Ohio State University

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Prof. Gretchen Ritter ’83, government, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the next executive dean and vice provost of the Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences starting August 1.

She will lead the “academic hub” of the university, located in Columbus, Ohio, overseeing more than 17,000 undergraduate students. Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, by comparison, has around 4,390 undergraduate students.

Ritter came to Cornell in 2013 from the University of Texas at Austin to serve as the first female dean of Arts and Sciences. As dean, Ritter was involved with the creation of the Milstein Program, and advised the curriculum committee, which sought to re-evaluate the College’s curriculum goals.

She also held a dual appointment as a professor in the government department with research that focused on the study of women’s constitutional rights history.

Her initiatives as dean reflected her academic research, where she researched “efforts to reduce college achievement gaps that include intervention strategies and the exploration of new learning models in higher education,” according to her government department profile.

“I’m also proud of the work we did to recruit and support more first-generation college students, recruiting and retaining a more diverse faculty, and appointing more women and faculty of color to leadership positions,” Ritter told The Sun in an email.

Current Arts and Sciences Dean Ray Jayawardhana expanded on the success of Ritter’s initiatives, telling The Sun that the changes Ritter spearheaded in the curriculum and first-year advising seminar are now being put into effect.

In 2018, Ritter stepped down as dean at the conclusion of her five-year term to return to teaching and research. Ritter said in the email she has had a “wonderful” tenure with the department and that she is “in awe of many of my colleagues.”

“In addition to the accomplished faculty who have been there for some time, the department has recruited many spectacular new faculty members in recent years … The future is bright for the Government Department at Cornell,” Ritter added.

Although Ritter’s departure creates a vacancy within the government department, Jayawardhana told The Sun that the department recently made three new faculty appointments and plans to make more in the future.

“Gretchen has experience at Cornell as an innovator who has worked across disciplinary boundaries, and I am thrilled that our College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State will benefit from her leadership in the years ahead,” said Janet Box-Steffensmeier, the interim executive dean and vice provost for Arts and Sciences at OSU, in an email to The Sun.

Ritter, a third-generation Cornellian, said she will “miss the beautiful campus, which I have always found inspiring.”

“The students at Cornell are also a pretty extraordinary bunch — deeply talented but humble, always ready to step up to challenges, they are innovative and hard working,” Ritter wrote in the email.