Zadnik named interim executive vice president and provost

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees Talent, Compensation & Governance Committee voted today to appoint Karla Zadnik as interim executive vice president and provost, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

The full board will consider the decision on Thursday. Zadnik currently serves as dean of the College of Optometry, a position she has held since 2014, and is the Glenn A. Fry Professor in Optometry and Physiological Optics. She has also served as interim dean of the College of Public Health since July. Pending board approval, Zadnik will serve as Ohio State’s interim provost as well as remain in her position as interim dean of the College of Public Health. Jeffrey Walline, associate dean for research in optometry, will lead the College of Optometry as interim dean.

As interim provost, Zadnik will lead the university’s education mission as the chief academic officer.

“Dr. Zadnik brings outstanding credentials and deep leadership experience to the role of the university’s chief academic officer,” said Peter Mohler, acting president and executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “We also welcome Dr. Walline, a highly talented scholar and established leader, to his new role. The university is grateful to both for their continued excellence in service to Ohio State.”

Zadnik is the first woman dean of Ohio State’s College of Optometry, the first woman dean of a public school or college of optometry, and a prominent patient-oriented researcher in the field of optometry and vision science. She is an Ohio State Distinguished Scholar, serves as the lead dean for the university’s seven health science colleges and chairs the Biomedical Sciences Institutional Review Board.

She received her OD and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame this year. She is a past president of the American Academy of Optometry and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and president of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. She served a four-year term on the National Advisory Eye Council for the National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health.

Zadnik was the study chairman for the National Eye Institute-funded Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) Study for 20 years and chaired the first-ever NEI-funded multicenter study based in optometry, the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus (CLEK) Study.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to help steward and move forward the incredible work of our faculty, staff and students – all of whom fuel Ohio State’s fundamental mission to teach, learn and discover,” said Zadnik, who will work with outgoing Provost Melissa L. Gilliam to ensure a seamless transition.

As interim dean of the College of Optometry, Walline will lead a student, faculty and staff community focused on professional, residency and continuing education programs, as well as research and graduate education in vision science. The college also provides optometric care to Ohioans and beyond through teaching clinics, externship sites and residency programs.

Walline has led several pediatric contact lens studies. He is the study chair of the Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study and co-chair of the Delaying the Onset of Nearsightedness Until Treatment (DONUT) Study, both sponsored by the National Eye Institute. Walline is also the president-elect of the American Academy of Optometry, a national organization committed to promoting the art and science of vision care through lifelong learning.

The university will announce the search committee for Ohio State’s next executive vice president and provost in the coming weeks.