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History of the superintendent-in-residence program at Ohio State

From the earliest days of the College of Education at Ohio State, officially formed in 1907 by state statute, the faculty worked with Ohio’s schools to support the training of teachers and administrators. As early as 1918, documents show that superintendents of Ohio schools taught summer courses to students enrolled to become teachers.

Joseph L. Davis

Joseph L. Davis

In more recent decades, Joseph “Joe” L. Davis, an alumnus of the college and superintendent of Columbus Public Schools, worked closely with Dean Luvern Cunningham on desegregation of the schools. After his retirement as superintendent in 1982, he founded the annual Academy of Superintendents at Ohio State in 1983. It began as a regional event, given annually for administrators to gain knowledge about pressing educational issues.

Franklin B. Walter

Franklin B. Walter

In 1991, Franklin B. Walter retired as superintendent of public instruction for the state of Ohio after 14 years in the role. He was recruited to the college by Dean Don Anderson, and in 1994, designated the first official superintendent-in-residence by Dean Nancy Zimpher. Walter took over the academy and transformed it into the National Academy for Superintendents, the first one being held in 1994. From that day forward, the annual event drew school district leaders from around Ohio and across the country.

In 2003, he was named the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration by Dean Donna Evans. Walter also taught courses and shared his wisdom with future superintendents in the Superintendents Licensure program. He retired from Ohio State in 2005.

There was a pause in the role until Ralph A. Johnson became superintendent-in-residence from 2008 to 2010. Johnson had been superintendent of New Albany Schools northeast of Columbus and director of leadership for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

Ralph A. Johnson

Ralph A. Johnson

Johnson coordinated and taught courses in the Superintendents Licensure program and led the annual National Academy for Superintendents, which completed its 27th year in 2010.

In 2018, Dean Don Pope-Davis revived the Superintendents-in-Residence program by inviting John Marschhausen, superintendent of Hilliard City Schools, to join the college in this role.

Pope-Davis expanded the program in 2019 by inviting Talisa Dixon, superintendent and CEO of Columbus City Schools, and Marie Ward, superintendent of Fairfield County Educational Services Center, to join. These additions are in keeping with the goal of the college to partner with schools representing rural, suburban and urban school districts.