Ohio

Eye on Education

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro Retires Today

Courtesy of Kent State University

Today was Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro’s last day on the job.

Petro, 64, is retiring after decades of public service.

“I expect he’ll be working right up to the end of the day,” Board of Regents spokesperson Jeff Robinson said earlier today in an email.

As chancellor, Petro was responsible for carrying out state higher education policy.

Under his leadership, the Board focused on encouraging partnerships between universities and private companies to commercialize university research, advocating for increasing college graduation rates, and consolidating and increasing the efficiency of IT services overseen by the Board of Regents.

Petro oversaw the final years of Ohio colleges’ switch to the semester system and encouraged communities to schedule classes in blocks so that students can have more stability in scheduling work and other obligations around course schedules.

Gov. John Kasich appointed Petro to the post in 2011.

Petro previously served as state attorney general and auditor, as well as a state representative, commissioner in Cuyahoga County and city councilperson in Rocky River.

During his unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial campaign, he proposed merging the Ohio Department of Education and the Board of Regents to great a mega-department overseeing education from kindergarten through college.

That has not happened. But last month the Board of Regents moved into the same building as the Department of Education, in what officials have said is a move to bring the state agencies closer together.

As state attorney general, Petro helped reopen the case of a man convicted of rape and murder. DNA evidence eventually proved the man’s innocence. Petro’s work on the case lead to changes in state laws about post-conviction DNA testing.

In his retirement, Petro has said he plans to tour internationally with his wife Nancy in support of a book the couple wrote about false convictions. Petro told Statehouse News Bureau reporter Bill Cohen:

“I care deeply about our justice system just as I do about higher education.”

Petro’s statement from a Board of Regents press release:

“As I look back on more than 30 years in public service, many highlights come to mind, and several of those involve my time here,” Petro said. “I am honored to have served as Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. There are daunting challenges ahead, but I know our work will directly impact the future of Ohio’s students.”

Board of Regents staff celebrated Petro’s retirement yesterday afternoon at a get-togther featuring a short speech from the Chancellor and a cake made up of white, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, iced to look like a sailboat heading into the sunset, Robinson said.

Board staff have not yet received word from the governor’s office on who will serve as interim chancellor until the governor appoints a permanent chancellor.

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