In its search for a new president, Ohio State dropped more than $95,000 on advertising for a nearly $120,000 university symposium held this semester.
The cost of the Symposium on the University Presidency and the final copy of the presidential profile were released to The Lantern Wednesday.
The symposium, a discussion about what qualities a president should have and what a president should expect in his or her term, was held Aug. 30. It was hosted by Harvard Graduate School of Education professor emeritus Richard Chait. Tufts University President Emeritus Lawrence Bacow, Washington State University President Elson Floyd, University of North Carolina system President Thomas Ross and University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan were the panelists, and Tulane University President Scott Cowen was scheduled as one of the guests, but was unable to make it because he was “stuck in the airport,” Chait said Aug. 30.
The event cost about $118,000, including travel, hotel rooms, transportation, advertising, dinner and honoraria, which are payments given for professional services on which there is no set price, according to a document emailed to The Lantern Wednesday by OSU spokesman Gary Lewis, filling a public records request filed Aug. 16.
“The panel was an important part of the search committee’s strategy and helped its members to refine their vision,” Lewis said in the email.
Meanwhile, with the presidential profile’s official release Wednesday, it seems those interested in becoming OSU’s next president have their reading laid out for them.
The eight-page document, which describes the qualities of the ideal candidate, is meant to be sent to potential candidates to give them an idea of whether they’re a good fit for the position or not. Writing that document, though, has taken a few weeks longer than was originally intended — the profile was supposed to be completed by mid-September.
The pages of the presidential profile are filled with some basic desirable traits, including “superb communication skills” and “integrity, wisdom, stamina, energy and passion.”
Other traits, though, are more specifically oriented toward qualifications candidates should have on their resumes — terminal degrees, meaning the highest degree in any given area of study, teaching experience, a personal record of research and scholarship and a demonstrated record of sound fiscal management are among those listed.
Still others prompted debate at a past Presidential Search Committee meeting.
“Understanding of an academic medical center and NCAA Division-I athletic programs is also desirable” and “a record of significant fundraising” were among those points brought up during the Sept. 17 meeting. Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Schottenstein called the presidency “irrelevant” in fundraising at a school where donations are often made specifically for the Wexner Medical Center and the Athletic Department.
One member of the advisory subcommittee, Michael Eicher, president of the OSU Foundation and senior vice president for Advancement, disagreed with Schottenstein, though.
“There are presidents who are good at this, and there are those that aren’t,” he said. “We want one that’s good.”
Some OSU students have voiced that they’d like to see a president who is a good fundraiser as well.
“(Former OSU President E. Gordon) Gee was very good at finding grants … He had good connections which got really good research grants to the university,” said Mehmet Deveci, a graduate student in computer science and engineering. “That would be the first quality that I would look for in the new president.”
Some expressed a desire for a president who will spread funds out more evenly across departments.
“I wish that there could be more allocation of funds and attention to other departments, like in the arts and stuff, not just within the sciences,” said Marla Goins, a graduate student in African-American and African studies. “Maybe if the next president could make sure that support goes to departments within the humanities and arts, that would be good. That would benefit a lot of students.”
Others were happy to hear a “commitment to affordable education” was among the desired traits.
“(I’d like to see) someone who’s going to keep tuition down,” said Amanda Broseus, a second-year in chemical engineering and food engineering.
Brian Trainor, a second-year in environmental science, said he hopes OSU hires a president who is “involved with the culture” at OSU — one of the profile’s listed qualities is a “genuine commitment to the aims of community engagement.”
The document is set to be formally approved by the Board at its Nov. 7 and 8 meetings. The advisory subcommittee was still working on the university portrait, a 30 to 40 page document intended to be a recruitment tool to inform candidates of OSU’s attractive qualities, as of Sept. 19.
OSU’s contract with private search firm R. William Funk & Associates was finalized Sept. 17. OSU will be paying the firm a fixed fee of $200,000, as well as reimbursing the firm for direct, out-of-pocket expenses and an additional cost of $20,000 to cover administrative and support expenses, according to the contract.
A Sept. 15 university statement said all candidates and finalists of the presidential search will be kept private.
It has been nearly four months since Gee announced his retirement June 4. Gee retired July 1, the same day Interim President Joseph Alutto assumed the position.
The announcement of Gee’s retirement came 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.
Presidential Search Committee Chair Jeffrey 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.
Matthew Miles and Matthew Mithoefer contributed to this article.
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