Lantern file photo
Without explanation, Les Wexner stepped down from the Ohio State Board of Trustees in June. It’s been almost three months, and still no one will say why he preemptively ended his term.
The Lantern has attempted to reach the former Board chairman several times since his resignation to no avail.
A Limited Brands spokeswoman declined an interview twice Monday. The first was in response to a phone call.
“We’re going to have to pass on this opportunity, but for future reference its always nice if we get just a bit of further notice as I’m sure you understand Mr. Wexner’s schedule is quite hectic,” she said.
The Lantern followed up with an email request for a future interview, but was again denied.
“We are going to continue to pass but sincerely appreciate your interest,” the same spokeswoman said in the email.
Shelly Hoffman, university spokeswoman, told The Lantern last week that health issues were not to blame for Wexner’s resignation, but said in June that no reason was given.
Wexner’s time with the Board ended just two months after he accepted another term as chairman that wasn’t set to end until 2020. According to a press release issued in June, Wexner had been on the Board since 1988.
Robert Schottenstein stepped up as chairman after Wexner stepped down. Schottenstein has been a member of the Board since 2005 and has previously served as Chair of the Board’s Audit and Compliance Committee and as Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee.
Schottenstein noted the resignation during the most recent scheduled Board meeting, according to June meeting minutes. It was the first since his resignation.
“I want to acknowledge again the powerfully effective chairmanship of Les Wexner, and I also want to mention and thank him for his work on the Board,” Schottenstein said. “Since our last Board meeting, Les has retired from this Board, but as everyone in this room knows, his commitment to Ohio State and his love for this university is, frankly, unmatched and at times has no bounds. We look forward to his continued involvement.”
Since then, Schottenstein has not commented on Wexner’s resignation, and other Board members also remain silent as well.
The Lantern received no response to an email sent to a Wexner Medical Center official. Instead, David Crawford, spokesman for the Medical Center, responded to the email.
“We are unable to be of any assistance with your inquiry about Mr. Wexner,” Crawford said in the email.
Taylor Stepp, undergraduate student government president, said he had theories on the resignation, but knew nothing concrete. He said however, that he thinks it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“It seemed like it was fairly routine, since the governor already had a appointment ready,” he said.
Wexner’s resignation came alongside the appointment of two new trustees Cheryl Krueger and Benjamin Reinke. Krueger was appointed for a nine-year term ending in May 2021, and Reinke for a two-year term ending in May 2014 serving as a student member.
In February, the OSU Medical Center was renamed in Wexner’s honor, which Gee said in an email “recognizes the critical work the Wexners have undertaken to ensure The Ohio State University Medical Center is able to solve some of medicine’s most persistent challenges and change lives for the better.”
In the email, Gee said Wexner’s “generous contributions, both in time and resources, have been wholly transformational, but his most valuable gift has been his remarkable leadership,”
According to a February Medical Center release, Wexner and his affiliates have donated more than $200 million over the past 30 years to OSU, along with “hundreds of millions more that Mr. Wexner has directly helped to raise.”
In 2011, Wexner made a $100 million donation to the university, the largest single donation in OSU history. The donation inspired the “But for Ohio State” university slogan.
Wexner provided money for the Wexner Center for the Arts on campus, which is named after his father and was “instrumental in the formation” of the Fisher College of Business according to the release. He is also founder of the New Albany-based multi-billion dollar international corporation Limited Brands.
According to Forbes, Wexner’s wife Abigail is Chair of the Boards of Directors of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Inc. and Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a Trustee of The Wexner Center Foundation.
The Board of Trustees Governance Committee had an executive session meeting Tuesday at 3 p.m. The meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held in Longaberger Alumni House but moved to Bricker Hall, was not open to the public or media.