Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles

It is expected that these principles will be revised over time, ensuring that they always provide relevant and effective guidelines as the Discovery Themes Initiative evolves and matures.


  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will focus on critical societal needs, reflecting Ohio State’s obligation as a public, urban, land-grant, research university with very high research activity, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation, which also identifies Ohio State as an engaged university.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative is a transformative effort. All Discovery Themes thinking, planning, processes, and structures will be equally transformative. The Discovery Themes represent Ohio State’s shining opportunity to test new ways of doing things. 
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will be a model of efficient and effective administrative and business processes and structures.
  • The Discovery Themes focus areas will be distinctive and distinguished, and work in them will result in national leadership.
  • Vibrant Discovery Themes partnerships with government and service entities, private enterprise, and foundations will enhance the reputation and visibility of The Ohio State University and the success of our students, faculty and staff. 


  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must strengthen Ohio State’s mission areas of teaching and learning, research and innovation, and outreach and engagement.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must align with university advancement priorities, OSU’s strategic agenda, and university-wide strategic plans.  
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must be characterized by a sense of fairness and inclusion across colleges, departments, and programs.
  • There will be integration and leveraging across all Discovery Themes focus areas.


  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must be a model of interdisciplinarity and transinstitutionality that promotes and enhances broad university collaboration.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will build on existing strengths and/or develop new programmatic excellence that will achieve a substantial comparative and competitive advantage.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will support existing faculty excellence, building current faculty work into a collaborative experience.


  • Discovery Themes Initiative leadership will embrace a “One University” perspective to encourage university-wide participation in Theme-related teaching, research and outreach; to make recommendations to the provost on resource allocation; and be exemplary stewards of university funds, reputation and values. 
  • In partnership with Discovery Themes leadership, the Office of Academic Affairs will provide oversight of and administrative support for the Discovery Themes.


  • New Discovery Themes faculty will be tenured or tenure-track. Hiring will be informed by significant faculty input and will involve a leveraged investment of central and local expenditures. 
  • The Discovery Themes provide a focused and significant opportunity to enhance the diversity of Ohio State’s tenure-track faculty. 
  • Also important to the success of the Discovery Themes Initiative are excellent non-tenure track faculty as well as affiliated staff and students, including clinical and research faculty, associated faculty, program managers, technical experts, administrative staff, post-docs, graduate students, etc. 


  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must involve shared investments. All those participating must share and leverage their own investments.
  • OSU’s investments must be leveraged with external dollars, with a premium placed on transinstitutional collaborative spirit and behavior.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will lead to innovation and commercialization. 

Accountability and Success

  • Clear expectations for return on investment (ROI) must be set. 
  • Discovery Themes groups will be monitored and held accountable; annual reviews will be conducted; a 2-year review will measure progress and need for adjustment; a 3-year re-evaluation will determine the continuation or sunsetting of a Discovery Themes effort.