University leaders decided to postpone University President Michael Drake’s state of the university address and cancel Joseph Steinmetz’s farewell reception in recognition of student deaths this semester, including that of Austin Singletary on Wednesday.
Drake was scheduled to give his address at the Ohio Union on Monday. The annual speech was to be followed by a reception for Steinmetz, the former executive vice president and provost who recently accepted the position as chancellor at the University of Arkansas.
Steinmetz will be UA’s sixth chancellor and is set to officially begin there on Jan. 1. He left his office in Bricker Hall for the last time Monday.
Bruce McPheron, the vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is set to officially step into his new position on Wednesday.
University spokesman Chris Davey said Steinmetz’s farewell will not be rescheduled, but he added that OSU is currently working to find an appropriate future date to schedule the university address.
“This decision was made on Wednesday after the horrible tragedy that we experienced at Mirror Lake, and it was apparent that it would be inappropriate for business to continue as usual,” he said. “We’re joining together and mourning this loss as a community, so the decision was made to postpone the speech and reception that had been planned for Dr. Steinmetz.”
Drake was expected to join other university leaders to speak and recognize Steinmetz’s work and accomplishments at OSU and wish him well at UA, Davey said.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t have another opportunity to formally thank him for everything he did at Ohio State because he’s on his way to Arkansas,” he said.
Drake said he thinks UA is “fortunate indeed” to have Steinmetz as the new chancellor.
“Joe has been a dedicated scholar and administrative leader at Ohio State,” Drake said in an emailed statement. “He has led our faculty, staff and students in elevating the important work of the university and championed our efforts to balance access, affordability and excellence across the institution. We will miss our friend and colleague, but he leaves with our hearty congratulations and best wishes.”
Last year in Drake’s first state of the university address, the president focused on university progress, including an update on OSU’s Discovery Themes initiative and accomplishments of expanding the Wexner Medical Center.
The decision to postpone Drake’s address and cancel Steinmetz’s reception was made among university leaders.
Jeremy Savitz contributed to this story.