Interview of Karen Ann Holbrook by Kevlin Haire

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After completing her undergraduate and Master's degrees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison – both in Zoology – Karen Holbrook taught at Ripon College for three years, then moved to Seattle to complete a Ph.D. After earning her doctorate, she remained at the University of Washington School of Medicine for 25 years, eventually becoming a full Professor and Associate Dean, with a joint appointment in the departments of Dermatology and Biological Structure. She then became Vice President of Research and the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida. From there she went to the University of Georgia to serve as Provost. Multiple schools recruited her to serve as President while she was Provost at Georgia, but Ohio State was the first offer she accepted. She served as the University's 13th President, and she was the first woman to serve in the role. As President, Holbrook created the Undergraduate Research Office, and she instituted a research track for faculty. She also created the Early Childhood Development Center and partnered with Battelle Memorial Institute to create the Metro Early College High School. In addition, she hired Director of Athletics Gene Smith, helped secure some of the final funding for the complete renovation of Thompson Library, and while she was President, the University implemented a domestic-partners benefits program so these individuals would receive the same benefits as legal spouses of OSU employees. During the interview Holbrook also discusses why she accepted the Presidency, what her workload was like, what it was like to be the first female president. She also describes her role in advancing the University's Academic Plan, her role in fund-raising, and her working relationship with Provosts Ed Ray and Barbara Snyder.


Remote interview.