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Ohio University Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College Joe Shields announces intent to step down

Joe Shields, who has served as Ohio University’s Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College since 2011, will be stepping down from his role effective June 12, 2022. He has the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as director of the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, one of the largest and most advanced optical telescopes in the world, headquartered on the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona.

“During his time at OHIO, Joe has fostered a strong legacy of excellence in scholarship and research, resulting in national recognition for innovation and economic development,” said Ohio University President Hugh Sherman. “It has been an honor to work alongside Joe for the past three decades, and I am grateful for his friendship and collegiality.”

Shields, who joined Ohio University as an assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts in Sciences in 1996, has served in various roles over the years, including tenured professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, chair of the Physics & Astronomy Department, and interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. 

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley, Shields held a postdoctoral appointment at the Ohio State University and a Hubble Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Shields’ research is focused on the physics of supermassive black holes in galaxies, using both ground-based and space-based observatories.  

Earlier this year, under Shields’ leadership, Ohio University joined the highest level of research institutions in the country by earning the R1 classification (very high research activity) from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

“Joe has been an exemplary advocate for Ohio University faculty’s research, scholarship, and creative activity throughout his tenure,” Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said. “As dean of the Graduate College, he has worked to increase support for graduate students. I will miss Joe’s integrity, counsel, and friendship, and I wish him all the best in his new endeavors.” 

Provost Sayrs invites Ohio University faculty with interest in serving as interim vice president for research and creative activity to submit a CV and cover letter to by May 31, 2022.

For more information about research at Ohio University, visit

May 12, 2022
Staff reports