Ohio State’s parking privatization and presidential search were topics of debate brought up to OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto and Presidential Search Committee advisory subcommittee convener Deborah Merritt at University Senate’s first meeting of the year Friday.
Alutto spoke for about 15 minutes about the state of the university and then took questions from the body. He heard criticism of the parking from faculty members who were upset about the unavailability of parking spots due to the renovation of several parking garages on campus.
Alutto said operating inefficiencies by the vendor should be addressed but the parking issues have nothing to do with the privatization.
“Many of our faculty and staff are blaming the wrong people,” Alutto said. “We had made decisions about what this university needs going forward in terms of construction, and in the process, eliminated some parking that will eventually come back in a year or two. But what we didn’t do effectively, I don’t think, is to plan for that interim period when we were going through that adjustment. We have taken down garages without thinking carefully about the sequencing that needs to occur to make sure that parking space is available. That has nothing to do with our vendor.”
Alutto said faculty will need to accept distance parking is going to be necessary until the parking spaces come back.
OSU’s Board of Trustees voted in June 2012 to lease OSU’s parking operations to an Australian-based investment company, QIC Global Infrastructure, for 50 years in exchange for a up-front payment of $483 million. CampusParc, which handles the day-to-day operations of university parking, began managing those systems in September 2012.
Merritt presented the presidential profile drafted by the Presidential Search Committee advisory subcommittee at the meeting as well. The profile is the first glimpse potential candidates will have in deciding if they are a strong candidate for OSU’s presidency.
Merritt also addressed that the presidential candidates and finalists will be kept confidential.
“The attraction of presidential candidates today, everyone acknowledges across the county, has to be done in complete confidence,” Merritt said. “Top officials simply will not agree to be considered if there is public discussion about them. If they’re a sitting university president, they don’t want their Board of Trustees to know that they are possibly considering Ohio State.”
Mark Rudoff, associate professor at the School of Music, questioned Merritt about one section of the presidential profile. Rudoff expressed concern that the profile’s mention of a “commitment to shared governance” outlines that a candidate should have the “capacity to work effectively with a board of trustees” but does not mention University Senate. Rudoff asked whether this was an indication of a disregard for the senate by the administration.
Merritt said it was not.
It has been nearly four months since former OSU President E. Gordon Gee announced his retirement June 4. Gee retired July 1, the same day 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 search process is expected to take about 300 days based on how long searches take at other universities considering outside candidates.
Other measures passed by the University Senate at the meeting included:
- The establishment of a doctoral education program for kinesiology, due to demand.
- The creation of a center for regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies. The proposal for that measure stated that relevant disciplines are currently too fragmented across the university.
- Allowing the Department of Psychiatry to change its name to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, in order to reflect the expanding role of that department.
- Approval of an updated faculty code which alters language made obsolete as a result of the quarter to semester change and the new numerical system for courses.
In accordance with the bylaws of the Board of Trustees, faculty are entitled with the legislative responsibility for creating policies that pertain to the university’s academics. University Senate is the principal organ of that process and it convenes at least seven times per year. The senate is composed of 70 faculty members, 26 Undergraduate Student Government members, 26 administrative personnel, 10 Council of Graduate Students members and five representatives from the Inter-Professional Council.