Five Ohio campuses set to receive funding for 'intellectual diversity' centers

The most recent Ohio state budget included Senate Bill 117, which will establish intellectual diversity centers at five public universities, totaling $24 million.

The recipients include Ohio State University, the University of Toledo, Miami University, Cleveland State University, and the University of Cincinnati.

Five Ohio schools are set to receive “intellectual diversity” centers as part of the state’s most recent two-year budget laid out in House Bill 33.

Originally proposed as a part of Senate Bill 117, plans were made for centers at Ohio State and Toledo, and an amendment added the other three schools. This updated version of the bill was assumed into the state budget, which was signed by Governor Mike DeWine on July 4, effective immediately.

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State Senator Jerry Cirino, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, argued for the need for such institutions on campus, saying in an interview with Campus Reform that, “intellectual diversity should be the hallmark of every institution of higher ed learning, public or private.”

He noted the one-sided political nature of many colleges, stating: “It’s conventional wisdom that universities around the country, not just Ohio, definitely favor left of center philosophies and teaching and predisposition of faculty and staff. What we’re trying to do is move away from that, move more toward the middle, so that students are exposed to a broad variety of opinions on issues.”

Cirino summarized the objective of the legislation, saying, “Let’s teach [students] what to think, not how to think.”

The centers will be considered “independent academic units,” but will be housed in existing colleges on the various campuses.

Ohio State will receive a total of $10 million, $2 million will go to Toledo, and the other schools will receive $4 million each.

The Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture, and Society at Ohio State will “conduct teaching and research in the historical ideas, traditions, and texts that have shaped the American constitutional order and society.” 

Toledo’s Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leadership will offer a variety of classes covering history and law and will host a number of speakers relevant in those same fields.

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In a statement to Campus Reform, a Toledo official said, “Lee Strang, a professor in The University of Toledo College of Law, was instrumental in developing this concept and working with the Ohio Legislature to establish the Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leadership at UToledo after researching similar models in other states.”

He continued, “UToledo is committed to working closely with the institute’s director, once that individual is chosen, to ensure the institute adheres to both the law and the University’s educational mission.”

Governor DeWine and all schools listed have been contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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