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Inconsistent review process for Ohio State administrators

April 14, 2014

essig.21@osu.edu

At a university where annual performance reviews are mandatory, some of Ohio State’s top administrators did not receive a written review last year.

But some were still rewarded — a Student Life administrator who went unreviewed in 2013 received a more than $19,000 bonus.

Meanwhile, the university’s top lawyer received a bonus totaling more than $690,000, about $136,000 more than his base salary.

At least two administrators didn’t have a performance review on file for 2012 or 2013 at all.

The Lantern requested 18 OSU senior administrators’ performance reviews for 2012 and 2013. Eight of the 18 administrators did not have performance reviews available for 2013, and at least four did not have reviews available for 2012.

According to an OSU human resources performance review policy, “all employees must receive a performance review at least once a year.”

University spokesman Gary Lewis said he would be speaking on behalf of all of the administrators mentioned in the records.

Lewis said written reviews are one component of evaluating employee performance at OSU.

“Although it is required for all employees to receive reviews, performance management at Ohio State also involves a continuous process of feedback and mentoring, which includes verbal and written reviews,” Lewis said in an email Monday. “All elements of performance review, verbal and written, are key inputs in determining compensation.”

He said, though, because the university is in a period of transition, the performance review process was adjusted.

“This year’s process for performance reviews of senior leaders was one in transition. Because every senior leader participates in the ongoing, annual review process, all leaders expect to receive helpful coaching and feedback. The university remains committed to a constructive review process that helps us achieve our institutional goals and provides every employee with the tools to excel in his or her professional objectives.”

The Lantern requested the performance reviews and other records including travel budgets Jan. 23, and the request was filled March 24.

The performance reviews focus both on looking ahead and reflecting on past accomplishments of each reviewed personnel. This is the first article in a series of three, and keys in on six members of the administration.

 

Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston

There was no 2013 performance review available for Adams-Gaston, although she earned a bonus of $19,099 for the year on top of her $317,946 annual salary.

In her 2012 review, then-Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Alutto said it had been a “very productive year” for Adams-Gaston and the Office of Student Life. Beyond that, though, he mentioned areas for improvement.

Alutto noted he wanted to see a more coordinated effort on the subject of health and wellness, including efforts from Adams-Gaston and OSU Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk.

“I am concerned about the intersection of Student LIfe and Bern Melnyk’s focus on Health and Wellness,” he wrote in the evaluation, dated August 2012. “It is important you both find ways of coordinating efforts and neither has exclusive control over initiatives in this area.”

Recently, changes toward a more healthy campus have been made, including a healthy vending initiative, in which items deemed “unhealthy” were phased out of university vending machines at the start of the year. An enforced, campus-wide tobacco ban was also implemented Jan. 1.

Adams-Gaston became vice president for Student Life in January 2009.

 

Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Counselor to the President Herb Asher

Asher earns $236,358 yearly and received a $28,157 bonus in 2013.

Asher’s review from Alutto, dated September 2013, noted that his role at the university was “critical to our success” in that year. Alutto called Asher “well-connected throughout the community,” and said those connections were crucial for moving the university forward.

“It is important for you to use those connections to assist me in meeting with those key leaders so that I can build the relationships needed to sustain the support for our work,” Alutto wrote.

He also wanted Asher to focus on informing him and the rest of the university about the scope of government relations. Alutto said this information would give a “better understanding of the political landscape” at a national and state level and would assist in making long-term decisions for the university.

From the review, it seems Alutto sees Asher as an important point of counsel, appreciating Asher’s resolve to “stop by to see me when there is something pressing that needs to be discussed.”

“When I or your colleagues have or have not done what is in our team’s best interest, step in and provide us with the coaching and feedback,” Alutto said. “This will only help us and your wisdom will only make us stronger.”

Alutto’s final comments center on Asher being prepared for future transitions, asking him to create and implement a plan to transition his role to a successor.

That idea of transition was also noted in Asher’s 2012 performance review from then-President E. Gordon Gee, who noted his appreciation for the leaders in the Office of Government Relations whom Asher hired.

“With your work in strengthening ties to our governmental partners during a time of great transition, the university is poised to seize the future in new and exciting ways,” Gee wrote in September 2012.

 

Vice Provost for Academic and Strategic Planning and Special Assistant to the President Michael Boehm 

There was no 2012 or 2013 performance review available for Boehm. He earns a yearly paycheck of $204,795, and did not receive a bonus in 2013.

Boehm became special assistant to the president in 2013 and has served as vice provost for academic and strategic planning since 2010.

As special assistant to the president, Boehm serves on the president’s cabinet, which makes recommendations to the president about matters affecting the university.

The university’s strategic planning is working toward a goal for OSU to “be consistently recognized among the top 10 public comprehensive research universities in the world,” according to the department’s website.

Notably, Boehm is one of the leaders of the Discovery Themes initiative, which was launched in October 2012 to target health and wellness, energy and environment, and food and food security. These were areas identified as priority areas for OSU by university officials, and the $400 million plan includes expanding research and hiring new faculty.

 

Vice President for University Communications Melinda Church 

There was no 2013 performance review available for Church, who did not receive a bonus that year. She earns an annual payout of $295,800.

In her 2012 review, Gee lauded Church for doing a “superb job” in transitioning into her new role at the university. Church moved into her role at University Communications in January 2012 and was later promoted to lead the entire department in March 2013.

“The focus you placed on assessing and deploying talent within the organization, as well as your strategic approach to communication, were great boons to our success,” Gee wrote. “You were also key in developing a social media strategy and shaping the Advancement Framework, both of which are essential to our future eminence.”

According to OSU’s Advancement website, it is a “university-wide initiative that integrates alumni relations, communications and marketing and fundraising.”

Church and other university officials restructured University Communications, officially implementing the new workflow March 1, 2013. The department was divided into five facets: Brand and Marketing, Interactive Communications, Media and Public Relations, Editorial Communications and Relationship Managers.

Church’s salary was raised to $290,000 from $208,000 at the time.

Gee outlined goals for Church in the review, including advancing the university through the One University platform, maximizing OSU’s digital presence and focusing on “talent assessment, leadership continuity and skill development.”

The One University platform “establishes one comprehensive and flexible vision for the campus that will allow Ohio State to advance knowledge and serve neighboring communities for years to come,” according to its website.

 

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Senior Adviser to the President Christopher Culley

Culley earns $555,500 yearly, and received a $691,119 bonus in 2013.

In his 2013 review, Alutto wrote that Culley “for the most part … surpassed the Board of Trustees’ expectations.” At the end of his review, Alutto also expanded Culley’s title to his current one.

Alutto encouraged Culley to play a greater role as a counsel to the university, noting he should continue to “challenge the thinking and ideas” of his peers in a “healthy way.”

“I very much value your ability to simplify complex problems and this is very apparent during our president’s cabinet meetings,” Alutto wrote. “Those strengths will be needed even more as the university and Board prepare for the next president.”

Beyond this, though, Alutto said he thinks Culley might have too much on his plate.

“I urge you to reach out to me and your peers for the assistance you may need doing the complex work you have been asked to do,” Alutto said. “It will not only help you but also them.”

Gee thanked Culley for his work in creating a new Office of Compliance in his 2012 performance review.

Gates Garrity-Rokous was hired as chief compliance officer in 2012, following the creation of the department in February of that year. The new Office of Compliance was created following the 2011 “Tattoo-Gate” scandal, which led to the resignation of football coach Jim Tressel, the departure of former Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a list of NCAA sanctions which included a one-year bowl ban and vacated all wins in the 2010 season.

In a 2012 Lantern article, Culley said he hoped the program at OSU would serve as a model for other institutions.

“With this hire (Garrity-Rokous) and the creation of the new compliance office, the university is underscoring that at Ohio State, integrity is paramount in all that we do,” Culley said.

Culley’s role puts him in charge of the university’s Office of Legal Affairs. He is the lead attorney for multiple entities, including the Board of Trustees, president, provost and cabinet, the Office of Legal Affairs Management, government relations, the John Glenn Institute, Attorney General’s General Counsel Committee and the National Association of College and University Attorneys, according to his bio on OSU’s website.

His areas of responsibility within the university include legal issues in university governance and administration, as well as legal services to business, finance, construction, human resources, athletics and government relations.

 

Senior Vice President for Talent, Culture and Human Relations Andraea Douglass

Douglass’ annual salary is $429,250 and she did not receive a bonus in 2013.

Douglass’ 2013 review notes that the year was “productive” for her, after she restructured OSU’s central human resources to establish “a strong core from which positive change can happen,” Alutto wrote in September 2013.

She joined the university in February 2013, in what then-President Gee called a “central leadership change.”

For areas of improvement, Alutto wrote that Douglass should “find a way to become more involved in the community” beyond her already-established roles. Moreover, he wrote that she should “more effectively control our health care costs” and said Douglass’ ability to work with people across the university would be crucial to this.

He also said he valued Douglass’ ability to “speak up on areas outside of Human Resources.”

“My expectation is that you lead conversations that illustrate to our cabinet members that you are being strategic in your thinking about what HR is doing and why,” Alutto wrote. “Make the ties to other strategic initiatives so that HR is not an afterthought.”

As with Culley, Alutto wrote that he worries Douglass has “a lot on (her) plate,” and encouraged her to seek help when necessary.

 

Commonality in reviews

There was a common theme in many of the reviews, as many of the 2012 reviews by then-President Gee start the same way and end on similar notes.

Of the 12 available in 2012, the seven completed by Gee all begin with, “Thank you for preparing your FY12 scorecard and for our meeting. This has been a very important year in our journey together.” They all end with him thanking the person for their hard work, leadership and friendship.

 

Looking ahead

OSU has experienced several changes in administrative roles, notably in the presidency. Gee retired from the role July 1, days after controversial comments he made at a Dec. 5, 2012, OSU Athletic Council meeting came under public scrutiny.

Gee’s departure left Alutto to take over as interim president while the university began its search for a permanent replacement. In January, Dr. Michael Drake, the current chancellor at the University of California Irvine, was named the next president.

As part of a series on the OSU administration, The Lantern is sorting through different aspects of what goes into running a university of OSU’s size and prominence.

This story is the first of three focusing on performance reviews of 18 senior administrators. The next segment will include reviews for Archie Griffin, senior vice president for alumni relations and OSU Alumni Association president and CEO, and Dr. Steven Gabbe, Wexner Medical Center CEO, among others.

 

This story is the second in a series about Ohio State’s administrators, including travel expenses and performance reviews over the last two years. The series was made possible by the generosity of Ohio State and The Lantern alumna Patty Miller.

 

A look at some of OSU’s administrators:


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Comments (9)

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  1. Joe Gamgene says:

    A bonuses because a person “exceeded expectations”? Usually exceeding means you did a good job, and for that reason you can keep your job. What a laugh!

  2. JustAPoorCivilServant says:

    “exceeded expectations” has recently been reflected in my reviews. the result equals a 3% raise rather than the suggested 2%. oh joy!

    reading this article made me physically sick to my stomach

  3. concerned grad says:

    Let me hear one more time from Dr. J that Student Life doesn’t have the funds to pay for proper staff, programming, etc.

  4. Ohio State, Inc. says:

    This is where your tuition hikes go.

  5. Lately The Lantern has been coming out with some good articles on how OSU is really run. Besides bonuses, remember that many of these “Educators” also get “car allowances,” country club memberships, free parking, and who knows what other perks.

    Let me be clear: if this were a private company, I wouldn’t be complaining about “executive salaries.” But this ain’t no private company. This is supposed to be a “land grant university.” All of us state employees should be here to serve the public good, not to amass our private fortunes.

    Those of us who really care about Education, our fellow Citizens, and our Country; those of us who are REAL public servants, don’t need perks and bonuses to do our jobs. Nor do we need Excessive Ego Stroking from fellow Brahmin to ensure our loyalty.

    Many thanks to Ms. Essig, The Lantern, and Patty Miller for these articles!

    Oh, and let’s hear it for the First Amendment! (Something our Dear Leadership no doubt wishes it could suppress.)

    Karl Spaulding,
    OSU’s unofficial Pariah Laureate

  6. Ohio State, Inc. says:

    I echo Karl’s sentiments on the Lantern.

    I am refreshed by the Lantern assuming the role of campus muckraker on the transition of our beloved alma mater from land-grant, public, non-profit institution of higher learning to garden-variety corporate monolith.

    My #1 question is: what took you so long?

  7. Disgusted says:

    I have had “exceeds expections” ratings for the past 7 years, and only one time was the amount of my raise more than 2%. Every since, I’ve been told OSU didn’t have the money for more than 2% for anyone. Well, almost anyone. I guess there are exceptions to every rule………this is disgusting. I wish they would get $7.50 a week raise (as that is what most staff raises amount to after taxes) as see how the other 99% of the OSU community lives.

  8. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks,
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