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CFO Geoff Chatas to leave Ohio State

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Senior vice president and chief financial officer Geoff Chatas will be leaving Ohio State later this year to pursue another job opportunity with QIC Global Infrastructure. Credit: Khalid Moalim/ Asst. multimedia editor

Senior vice president and chief financial officer Geoff Chatas will be leaving Ohio State later this year to pursue another job opportunity with QIC Global Infrastructure. Credit: Khalid Moalim/ Asst. multimedia editor

Senior vice president and chief financial officer Geoff Chatas will be leaving Ohio State later this year to pursue another job opportunity at the investment firm that financed the privatization of OSU’s parking facilities, the university announced Wednesday.

Chatas has accepted an opportunity with QIC Global Infrastructure, an investment firm based in Australia. Chatas will lead QIC’s infrastructure business in North America, according to a university press release.

In 2012, under Chatas’ leadership, OSU entered into a 50-year, $483 million partnership with QIC, which leased the university’s parking assets to the company.

Although the university and QIC have this standing partnership, Chatas’ new job will include him managing a new fund unrelated to the OSU parking lease, the release said, adding that Chatas “will not be involved in any aspect of the parking lease.”

Chatas has served as OSU’s CFO for five years — he has received praise from Ohio Gov. John Kasich for his efforts to lower operating costs at the university by entering into private contracts with companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, J. America, Huntington, Lids Sports Group and QIC.

Prior to coming to OSU as CFO and senior vice president in 2010, Chatas worked for AEP Texas Central Transition Funding LLC.

Chatas’ decision to leave the university comes after he said in January that he would stay in the position of CFO, despite an announcement in February 2014 that he would be taking on a new role at the Wexner Medical Center.

In February, Chatas was appointed by Kasich to serve as chairman of the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education, a group made up of nine members who have been asked to examine ways for Ohio’s public colleges and universities to hold down costs.

In a statement included in the release, Chatas said he has viewed his time at OSU as “a distinct privilege.”

“My time here has been both meaningful and exciting, and I am confident the university is at a great moment in its remarkable history,” he said.

During his tenure, Chatas did receive criticism from interim president Joseph Alutto.

In a performance review from September 2013, Alutto criticized Chatas, saying Chatas needed to create a more pleasant work environment. He said if Chatas forced changes his team couldn’t handle, it could “cripple the university” in the long term.

Alutto also wrote that Chatas needed to focus on his “own personal and professional development” as well, noting how Chatas was quick to “point out the shortcomings” of peers, as well as other individuals across campus.

University President Michael Drake said in the release that he thinks Chatas’ work has put the university in “a strong financial position.”

“Geoff has challenged Ohio State to look at many of our resources in a new way, all for the benefit of our faculty, students and staff in support of our academic mission,” he said.

Chatas said he is happy with what has been accomplished at OSU, and added that he looks forward to continuing to be a part of the university.
 
“On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed the relationships I’ve been able to build with student leaders, faculty and staff,” Chatas said in an email. “I’m looking forward to maintaining a relationship with the university, including through the class I co-teach at the Fisher College of Business.”
 
According to the release, Chatas is set to remain in his position at the university until May 10.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 20 to include additional comments from Geoff Chatas.

37 comments

  1. something’s definitely fishy about this…

  2. There are two things that smell like fish. Only one of them is fish.

  3. Are you implying that Geoff Chatas is a transexual?

  4. ‘Chatas “will not be involved in any aspect of the parking lease.”’, but ‘Chatas will lead QIC’s infrastructure business in North America’. Oh, Chatas happents to be involved in looking to privatize our energy? (http://thelantern.com/2014/10/ohio-state-is-considering-privatizing-its-utilities/) What a coincidence that the QIC press release is trumpeting Chatas’ energy expertise! (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/qic-announces-senior-us-and-uk-appointments-to-its-global-infrastructure-business-300052429.html)

  5. Once again, I am deeply saddened by the character of my underhanded, money grubbing Alma mater.

  6. Can you imagine that Les Wexner mysteriously resigned from the Ohio State Board of Trustees just days before the parking contract was approved? It’s also amazing that Wexner’s good friend and business partner Jack Kessler happens to be Geoff Chatas’ father-in-law (and a former Chair of the Ohio State Board of Trustees)!

    Sources:
    “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.”

    “Ohio State University trustees voted unanimously yesterday to lease the school’s parking operation to private investors for $483 million.”

    “The power couple — Wexner is the founder of L Brands, Kessler is a developer who joined Wexner to form the New Albany Co. — began spending their weekends driving the perimeter of Columbus, scouting locations.”

    “He met his wife, Katie, while they were working in adjoining cubicles at Citibank in New York. Her father, Jack W. Kessler, is a prominent real-estate developer who served on the OSU board and is a confidant of Gee’s.”

  7. The Real Ohio State, Inc. (tm)

    Business as usual. The executive graft at Ohio State is shocking. Does anyone care?

  8. “Bribe”, verb: persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.

    Congrats on the new job, Geoff!

  9. Something really stinks about this arrangement, and it’s not the Olentangy.

  10. Geoff Chatas is as shady as they come.

  11. Hey Anonymous,
    Great stuff. If you have anything else you’d like to share about the shady dealings of Chatas, Wexner and Co. then please share.

  12. So, where do we go from here?

    CFO Geoff Chatas pegged for state affordability task force –
    http://thelantern.com/2015/02/cfo-geoff-chatas-pegged-for-state-affordability-task-force/

  13. I have a hard time understanding why a research university of OSU’s size would ever need to privatize its assets in order to generate revenue. What expertise does a private company have that we couldn’t internally generate that would allow us to better monetize parking or be more efficient in our energy consumption?

  14. This is the most obvious marker in the history of the selling out of our University to Wexner Inc.
    I’m embarrassed to be a student here.
    OSU, leading the way in making education corporate.

  15. OSU did not need to privatize its parking of course. It is just that the name of the game nowadays is to extract as much wealth as it can from publicly owned resources and public funds. Mr. Chatas excelled at this. Now it is time cash in his chips.

  16. DB.. There’s no smoking gun, just an amazing string of “coincidences”. Check out Ohio State’s investment with Kasich’s buddy Mark Kvamme for example, and how that ties in with interpersonal relationships between Kasich, Kvamme, Gee, Wexner, Kessler, and Chatas.

    (http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2013/10/ohio_state_university_has_inve.html)

    Note: ‘William Jurgensen, chairman of the Finance Committee, told colleagues that Geoff Chatas, OSU’s senior vice president for business and finance, recommended the update, meeting minutes show. Jurgensen told trustees there were no “real significant changes in it that I need to call out to you.” He did not, according to minutes, mention the new provision that allows Alutto, Chatas and Provost Joseph Steinmetz — or whoever holds those three posts — to invest up to $100 million in operating funds at their discretion.’

    You can’t even do building renovations of just a couple million dollars without Board of Trustees approval (which they only approve about once a year), but apparently we’re allowed to invest $100 million wherever now without Board of Trustees approval.

  17. Anonymous and others have pointed out many important aspects of this very smelly incident in OSU history. And it’s only one in a recent string of such decisions made by top OSU administrators; see the sordid Jon Waters firing, among others. When are enough people in the OSU community going to wake up and demand that something be done to clean up (clean out) the entire Board of Trustees and half the higher administration? There are plenty of us who are mad as hell but don’t know what we can do about it other than write comments to Lantern articles. 🙁 The stink is overwhelming!

    I also note that the QIC press release doesn’t mention Chatas’s role in the parking lease to QIC. This is a significant difference between OSU and QIC. OSU, realizing that the stench might be noticed by some around here, makes up nonsensical PR statements intended to satisfy those who don’t think too clearly about the situation, e.g., that Chatas “will not be involved in any aspect of the parking lease.” Like that matters. Every time OSU issues a press release about a controversial issue, it’s so stupid that it makes me want to puke.

  18. Well, we know now why this was such a “good” deal for everyone at Ohio State (except students, staff and faculty who have to pay parking fees and walk on ice and snow outside the garages all winter long). Someone’s future is pretty rosy.

  19. The Real Ohio State, Inc. (tm)

    Yep, it’s a good deal if you can funnel money away from the university to either your private company buddies (for a modest kickback, I’m sure) or just straight to yourself after you jump ship from the source of the dollars to the destination.

  20. Thomas Gradgrind

    Yet another example of the corporate greed infesting OSU. It’s not really surprising, though, given it’s Ohio: dolt of a governor wants to get out of public education entirely, corrupt Board of Trustees in love with sweetheart deals and personal profit, and a gaggle of ridiculously overpaid administrators only interested in gaming the system to line their own wallets (see, for example, the farcical Second Year Transformational Experience program, a.k.a. let’s wring as much as we can out of students and their parents; also the whole Campus Partners development scheme, from the failure that is The Gateway to their newly-proposed renovation of 17th to 14th Aves., including a boutique hotel–because OSU campus needs two failing hotels).

    Saddens me to call this my alma mater anymore.

  21. Thomas,
    Can you please elaborate more on the Second Year Transformational scheme? The Campus Partners scheme?

    Is the Blackwell a failure?

    We’re concerned as much as you and we are trying to do something about it 🙂

  22. Chatas did not make his financial disclosure public, even though he has $100 million check writing authority. Odds are there are smoking gun conflicts in his personal holdings. He’s probably wanting to get out of town before he is forced to disclose them. The State Auditor should force disclosure. Also, OSU’s revolving door policy should prevent Chatas from taking any job at an OSU vendor. Period. Lets hope John Kasich is not completely asleep at the wheel in holding the OSU administration accountable for its abuses of power, as exhibited by their abuse of our marching band and its director just to give the likes of Chatas a Tifle IX political scapegoat. Chatas is part of the Shame of the Buckeyes. Good riddance.

  23. I don’t have any particularly special knowledge of the Blackwell, but you do know the man it’s named after is a former Ohio State professor and convicted felon? (http://www.columbusmonthly.com/content/stories/2011/07/roger-blackwell-is-free-to-speak.html)

    Ohio State tried to rename the place, but it turns out that there was no “out” in the contract, unless we returned the $7 million he gave to us, which is why it remains named after him. (http://thelantern.com/2006/01/more-blackwell/) Needless to say, I’ve heard there is now an “out” on all our naming rights contracts.

  24. OSU email is public record. I bet there is enough there and in other public documents (meeting minutes, etc.) to condemn him. Lantern reporters, how far are you willing to go? Request the documents and dig into this.

  25. You make an assumption that the email in question was done using the OSU network, and even if it were, that is hasn’t been deleted as SPAM.

  26. As for the South Campus Gateway, Campus Partners is basically an arm of Ohio State. It was established because:

    “Distance from the university structure would be important, both to shield OSU from potential controversy and to inspire community acceptance.” (http://places.designobserver.com/media/pdf/Campus_Partner_600.pdf)

    Ostensibly, Campus Partners claims to emphasize “market-based revitalization”. (http://campuspartners.osu.edu/who-we-are/) But it can’t escape anyone’s notice that the place has constant vacancies. Some examples:

    “Campus Gateway is in the middle of its second biggest retail turnover since opening in 2005. Much of the turnover involves the alley between 9th and 11th avenues, a pedestrian-only area that has been blamed for the demise of several businesses.”
    (http://www.columbusceo.com/content/stories/Dispatch/2014/08/south-campus-gateway-struggling-to-keep-tenants.html)

    “After at least four tenants moved out of the area within a span of 10 months, two new businesses have recently signed leases . . .” (http://thelantern.com/2014/02/2-businesses-fill-south-campus-gateway-vacancies/)

    “Jed’s Express closed its doors in early March after being open for less than six months, becoming the third restaurant at 14 E. 11th Ave. to close in just seven years.” (http://thelantern.com/2012/04/is-a-south-campus-gateway-restaurant-location-cursed-by-vacancy/)

    The construction—don’t get me wrong, it’s better than what was there before—was basically a poor decision that’s increasingly being subsidized by Ohio State money. (http://www.rpia.ohio-state.edu/committees/senfiscal/docs/02-02-10/Senate%20Fiscal%20Questions%201-29-10.doc) Notice that spaces are increasingly being taken by Ohio State offices or vendors held hostage by Ohio State contracts, some of this was by design, but it’s only getting worse:

    “Barnes & Noble, The Ohio State University Bookstore is set to open Aug. 15 in the South Campus Gateway and will integrate two existing campus bookstores into the new two-story retail area.” (http://thelantern.com/2005/07/longs-bookstore-moving-to-gateway/)

    “Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer is set to take over the long-vacated space on the corner of 9th Avenue and High Street. The office takes the place of what was the Sunflower Market, an organic grocery store owned and operated by Supervalu, Inc.” (http://thelantern.com/2011/10/osu-office-moves-into-south-campus-gateway-location/)

    ‘David Hoover, a spokesman for CampusParc, said the CampusParc office expects the move will happen within the calendar year. The office will be located “at the east end of the Gateway’s pedestrian plaza,” he said.’
    (http://thelantern.com/2014/09/campusparc-to-move-office-to-south-campus-gateway/)

    ‘The primary recommendation of the plan is to transfer the housing component of Gateway to Student Life to support the university’s need for additional housing. A higher density of undergraduate occupancy model (versus current graduate student model) will improve the return on the housing. Campus Partners has also replaced the retail leasing team, re-structured the management of the Gateway Theater (including a relationship with the Wexner Center), implemented the “Arts in the Alley” program and shifted a portion of the vacant space on 11th Avenue from retail to office use.’
    (http://www.rpia.ohio-state.edu/committees/senfiscal/docs/02-02-10/Senate%20Fiscal%20Questions%201-29-10.doc)

    Incidentally, student housing rental rates in the Gateway “are subject to change and review by the Board of Trustees”, because that’s more important than $100 million investments!
    (https://housing.osu.edu/living-on-campus/graduate-professional-housing/)

  27. No, I’m suggesting it’s worth looking into. I’m assuming he probably took some precautions not to use his public email for these types of things so it might be difficult to find anything.

  28. I’m actually in support of the stated goals of the Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) as I think it’s of particular importance to ensure the success of minority, disadvantaged, and first-generation college students. That said, that the “initiative will feature a two-year on-campus residency requirement” could definitely be construed to be Ohio State extracting more rent money. (http://step.osu.edu/north-residential-district-transformation/) However, I was surprised no alarms were raised by this:

    ‘A church’s plans to build a nine-story residential apartment on Woodruff Avenue were halted after Ohio State promised nearly $13 million in exchange for scrapping the project.
    . . .
    “The university felt that the previously proposed high-density housing project would be a potential functional and aesthetic detriment to an important gateway into the campus and the North Residential District, which is now moving forward in support of our Second-year Transformational Experience Program,” Lewis said in an email.’
    (http://thelantern.com/2013/08/ohio-state-pays-church-not-to-build-housing/)

    We gave a church $13 million to NOT build a residential complex when “a five-story mixed-use building at the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant at 18th and High” is going up literally 50 yards away?
    (http://www.columbusunderground.com/mixed-use-development-proposed-at-site-of-campus-wendys-bw1)

  29. Well, here’s an idea to help make people forget about this nasty smell. Why don’t we concoct a phony scandal, based on a “report” full of lies and distortions, and use it to fire the Director of the OSU Marching Band? That will surely focus attention away from our under the table shenanigans.
    Oh, wait, we already did that, didn’t we? Never mind, best think of something else.

  30. Waters is fired…get over it

  31. Professor Conn’s article in the Chronicle is spot on- and it speaks to the Chatas situation brilliantly. Take a look at past Lantern stories about his so-called performance review he received from the past interim-President and the look at the review he received as a result of his less than stellar review.
    Very sad- but inside the bubble- nothing is seen as untoward- in fact-it is expected. May the Lantern continue to follow these stories -not with the hope of anything will happen because it won’t-but there are a few of us who care about the direction that education is headed in this country -OSU is lost and won’t have its ship turned around in my lifetime. There is no one to rescue Ohio State with enough integrity, dignity and deep enough pockets that cares that corporate America has or will own every aspect of a citizen’s life. I applaud those who do -and don’t have a pricetag on their sense of decency.

  32. let the door hit you in the rear on your way out, you no talent a$$ hat.

  33. About the email: Business and Finance has an email archive. Kind of like Athletics. I’m guessing there is at least some information relevant to any investigation in to this topic in his OSU email. A public records request could be made to Business and Finance or legal services.

  34. Word on the street

    is that there is another high level administrator leaving for QIC soon too.

  35. I decided I didn’t want to go to jail, either.
    -Geoff

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