Jim Tressel, Chris Spielman, Eddie George – Ohio State football legends, but it isn’t a sports story.
Condoleezza Rice, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kasich and John Glenn. No, it’s not about elected politicians, either.
Nicolas Cage, Bill Nye and Stephen Colbert made the list, too. The subject matter, however, has nothing to do with TV or entertainment.
There were roughly 250 individuals suggested as candidates, some entered multiple times, through the Ohio State presidential search website as of Sept. 23, according to a document emailed to The Lantern Oct. 2 by OSU spokesman Gary Lewis to fill a public records request filed Sept. 16.
Of those submissions, the candidates range from those already working at OSU, such as Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston, to those who hold high administrative positions at other universities, such as University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, to those who are former employees of OSU, including former OSU football coach Jim Tressel.
Of those candidates, some felt the nominations were a compliment.
“I am obviously very flattered by that. I’m sure the people that filled up the pages know of my fondness for Ohio State and I’m sure one of the characteristics that many people have for their president is that they want someone that loves Ohio State,” Tressel said in an interview with The Lantern Oct. 16. “I think it’s been pretty well documented how I feel.”
Tressel’s name was suggested by 29 people, ranging from students and alumni to anonymous commenters. He said he thinks people partly suggested him because of his current role as vice president for student success at the University of Akron.
“I’m in higher education and they might not know many other people in higher education,” Tressel said. “I’m not sure I’ve had the experience dealing with all the components that it would take to run a place like Ohio State but nevertheless it’s flattering that someone would mention me … I take it as a very heartfelt compliment but I wouldn’t pretend to sit here and promote myself as a candidate for one of the great universities of America.”
Tressel resigned from OSU May 30, 2011, after compiling a 106-22 record in his more than 10 years as OSU’s football coach and leading the Buckeyes to a national championship in his second season at the school. His resignation came in the wake of the Tattoo-gate scandal, where some OSU players were found to be receiving improper benefits.
Former OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel laughed at being nominated to become the next university president.
“You know, I’d be good,” he said in an interview with The Lantern Thursday. “Actually, I look at the office of a presidency at a university and it’s a leadership position, and it’s something for somebody who can come in and gauge the students but still put the university – from a curriculum standpoint, academically, fiscally – set it up for the future. I mean, that’s their job as president at a place like this. It’s to come in and rule for the now but build for the future.”
Krenzel said he hopes the person chosen will deeply care about OSU.
“Whoever they choose, when it’s the Ohio State University, it’s going to be somebody who’s more than qualified. I really hope it’s somebody that really understands the importance of all the different facets, the different types of campus life,” Krenzel said. “Not somebody that’s overpowering academically, but you don’t want somebody who’s there for nothing but the fundraising and athletics. Somebody that has a really good balance to position this university to be a global institution for decades to come.”
Others who were suggested for the presidency said they’re not a serious candidate.
“I appreciate the confidence of whoever made that suggestion, but I am not a candidate for president of the Ohio State University. I am quite sure our search committee will find just the right president for our institution,” Adams-Gaston said in a statement emailed to The Lantern by Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs.
Presidential Search Committee advisory subcommittee convener Deborah Jones Merritt said in late September all submissions have been noted and put into spreadsheets for committee members to look at.
“We have been printing those and distributing them periodically to the whole committee,” Merritt said, adding that even joke submissions like “Ally Gator” have been included in the notes.
“The committee is absolutely getting all of that,” Merritt said. Her name was submitted by an anonymous staff member, as was OSU Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Schottenstein and Search Committee Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth’s — submitted twice by different faculty members.
None are serious about the suggestion, though, said OSU assistant vice president of media and public relations Gayle Saunders in an emailed statement.
“While they appreciate the fact that someone submitted their names, Ohio State Board of Trustees Chairman Robert H. Schottenstein, Presidential Search Committee Chairman and trustee Jeffrey Wadsworth and Professor Deborah Jones Merritt, convener of the Presidential Search Advisory Subcommittee, are not candidates for the position. They continue their focus on the work of the Presidential Search Selection and Advisory subcommittees,” the statement said.
- Actor Nicolas Cage was submitted once by an anonymous student
- Actor and former professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was nominated four times
- TV show host Bill Nye, perhaps best known as “Bill Nye the Science Guy” was suggested twice
- Actress Betty White was submitted once anonymously
- Goat of “Goat for Undergraduate Student Government,” a joke campaign started Spring Semester 2013, was submitted once by an anonymous student
- USG President Taylor Stepp and Vice President Josh Ahart were each nominated once, by an anonymous alumni and a student, respectively
- TV show host Stephen Colbert was submitted once by a student
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s name was submitted nearly 60 times. Rice is set to be part of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2014, which will work similarly to the committee that picks teams for the NCAA basketball tournament. She is also a professor of political economy and political science at Stanford University.
Other politicians suggested included Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Ohio Sen. John Glenn, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Other former OSU-affiliates were nominated, too — former OSU linebacker Chris Spielman and OSU football “97.1 The Fan” talk show host Mike Ricordati were on the list alongside former OSU running backs and Heisman Trophy winners Eddie George and Archie Griffin, who won the trophy twice.
OSU football coach Urban Meyer was recommended, as well as former OSU Board of Trustees Leslie Wexner, the CEO of Limited Brands, Inc.
Some people, including multiple OSU students, nominated themselves, and at least one OSU alumna nominated her father.
One comment mentioned OSU Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz, saying a businessman would be the best choice for the next OSU president because his or her corporate knowledge would balance out Steinmetz’s academic experience.
Steinmetz said in an interview with The Lantern Oct. 8, though, those specifics don’t matter as much as other qualities.
“What is most is important is the understanding of what an academic institution is all about. I think whether the person now is in industry, or government or (academia) is not as important to me as somebody who has that understanding,” he said. “I haven’t looked at any of those sites so I had no idea, but I’m kind of flattered. The idea here is that I am an academic through and through … So I think my strength is that I can give anybody selected advice on that side of the house, and I can do that if that person comes out of the traditional academic areas or if that person comes out of a non-traditional background.”
Former OSU President E. Gordon Gee announced his retirement June 4, days after controversial remarks Gee made at a Dec. 5 OSU Athletic Conference meeting became public. Comments about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular brought national attention.
Gee’s name, however, was suggested on the presidential search website more than 50 times.
A Sept. 15 university statement said all candidates and finalists of the presidential search will be kept private.
The finalized presidential profile, an eight-page document which describes the qualities of the ideal next president meant to be sent to potential candidates, was released Oct. 2. The document is set to be formally approved by the Board at its Nov. 7 and 8 meeting.
The Presidential Search Committee’s advisory subcommittee expected to be finished with the university portrait, a 30 to 40 page document intended to be a recruitment tool to inform candidates of OSU’s attractive qualities, by the end of October or the first week of November as of Oct. 7, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email Thursday.
Wadsworth said July 19 the process is expected to take about 300 days based on how long searches take at other universities considering outside candidates.
Grant Miller contributed to this article.