This week, Joseph A. Alutto begins his second term as interim president of OSU, the fifth person to fill this role for the University between administrations.
Alutto has actually worn many hats at OSU since he first arrived in 1991 as Dean of the Fisher College of Business. He came to Ohio State after spending 14 years serving as dean of the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Management. He had earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Manhattan College, a master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University.
When Alutto arrived as dean, it was known simply as the College of Business and was just starting to formulate a plan to implement a major restructuring of the college.
Early in Alutto’s tenure, the College’s name changed, after securing a $20 million gift in 1993 from OSU alumnus Max M. Fisher to help fund a $67 million, six-building complex for the College. It is now named the Max M. Fisher College of Business.
Roughly a year later, the restructuring plan was in place, calling for, among other things, new facilities, more faculty development and support, and a new emphasis on executive education.
Alutto spent the next 16 years implementing those changes, helping lift the college from a spot that was nowhere near the top 25 in national rankings, to 25th in the nation this year, according to U.S. News and World Report. Along the way, in 1998, Alutto was named Executive Dean of the professional colleges, coordinating the activities of the Colleges of Engineering; Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Education and Human Ecology; Law, and Social Work.
In July 2007, when then-President Karen Holbrook left OSU, Alutto took over as interim president for three months until E. Gordon Gee came on board for his second term as president, in October of that year. Shortly after, Gee tapped Alutto as Executive Vice President and Provost. Alutto served in that position until last week, when he was supposed to retire, but agreed to serve as interim president until a replacement for Gee is found.
Alutto is actually the fifth person in University history to serve as interim president. In 1925, George Rightmire was interim president for a year before the Board of Trustees made him president in his own right. Following Rightmire’s presidency (1926-1938), William McPherson was interim president for nearly two years. McPherson was Dean of the Graduate School at the time and had actually been acting president in 1924 when President William Oxley Thompson was ill for several months.
The next interim president was J. Richard “Dick” Sisson, who held the position for six months after Gordon Gee resigned in 1997 to be president at Brown University. Sisson was Vice President and Provost from 1993 until 1998. Former president Edward Jennings took over for two months in 2002 between Presidents Kirwan and Holbrook.
Finally, Joseph Alutto has been interim president twice – in 2007 before Gordon Gee’s second administration and now following it. Three interim presidents, McPherson (1887), Rightmire (1895, 1898, 1926), and Sisson (1958, 1960), were also alumni of Ohio State University.