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Geoff Chatas to remain CFO despite plans to leave for investment firm

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Geoff Chatas. Credit: Khalid Moalim / Asst. Multimedia Editor

Geoff Chatas. Credit: Khalid Moalim / Asst. Multimedia Editor

Ohio State’s chief financial officer and senior vice president Geoff Chatas will remain in his position at OSU after announcing earlier last month that he would be taking a job at the investment firm that had financed the privatization of the university’s parking facilities.

Chatas’ decision was announced by the university in a press release on Thursday.

“Ohio State students deserve the best education, but we can’t provide that education on the back of student debt,” Chatas said in a released statement. “I want to find creative solutions to the challenges facing higher education.”

Chatas’ salary under the new contract will remain the same “with no increase in compensation,” the Thursday release said. His base salary is $683,153.

Chatas announced in March that he was leaving OSU to pursue a position at QIC Global Infrastructure, an investment firm based in Australia. Chatas was set to lead QIC’s infrastructure business in North America.

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

Chatas has served as OSU’s CFO for five years, and 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, Huntington, and QIC.

Earlier this year, 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.

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

This is not the first time Chatas has changed his mind about leaving his job at the university.

In February 2014, OSU announced that Chatas would be taking on a new role at the Wexner Medical Center, but the following January, it was announced he would stay in the position of CFO.

In a released statement, President Michael Drake said he is confident in Chatas’ leadership abilities.

“Geoff has a deep commitment and passion for Ohio State,” he said. “His continued involvement will help us move more quickly and efficiently toward the future we envision.”

About two years ago, however, Chatas received 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.

But on Thursday, Drake said in the released statement that he is looking forward to Chatas’ assistance in carrying out his five-year, $400 million plan to redirect funds — through cost-cutting and “innovative financing strategies” — to fund academics, investments and need-based scholarships. Drake announced this plan at his Investiture ceremony on March 31.

“Ohio State is already a national leader on these issues, but the next five years could be transformational as we work to reduce what families pay for college while investing in academic excellence,” Drake said in the released statement. “I am delighted that Geoff will help guide this work.”

8 comments

  1. Dr. Peter Venkman

    Well, this is the most embarrassing thing thats ever happened at OSU.
    How many times have I said that over the past 2-3 years….?

  2. And Chatas’ “creative solutions to the challenges facing higher education,” will be privatizing Ohio State’s energy to QIC so they can give him a bigger windfall later in 3.. 2..

    Great discussion on Chatas’ antics in the comments of the article announcing his claimed-departure (thelantern.com/2015/03/cfo-geoff-chatas-to-leave-ohio-state/).

  3. Concerned Student and Taxpayer

    Welcome to the Wexner-Kessler State University (aka OSU)!

    First there was this:
    http://thelantern.com/2014/04/performance-review-officials-leadership-style-cripple-ohio-state/
    http://thelantern.com/2015/01/cfo-to-remain-in-position-despite-announcement-of-replacement-search/

    And now this!

    Chatas has clearly shown that he can do what he wants when he wants—conflict of interest and cronyism be damned. The reason is simple: He is married to the daughter of Jack Kessler, one of Wexner’s closest friends and business associates. The two (Wexner and Kessler) own this university, not just New Albany.

  4. OSU has a great and mounting credibility problem, exacerbated by this sudden about-face. So far, “innovative” financing and false economies have not contributed to improving education or research or campus life. In fact, they have subtracted from them. There is no reason that think that further moves of this nature will actually benefit aid to students in need when present “enrollment plans” work against the usual notions of access.

  5. This guy is scum

  6. This guy needs to be fired, and fired now. Cost cutting? How about we start with his giant salary and bonuses, that will pay for some need-based financial aid.

  7. What are the odds that his taskforce on affordability will read this recent NY Times piece
    (which attributes the staggering rise in tuition to a staggering rise in highly paid administrators)
    and conclude that for the sake of the university Chatas should resign?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html?_r=0

  8. Oh the irony of cost cutting while pulling in nearly $700k. What else can he sell off to firms he’s related to? Good thing he’s connected to Wexner, he’s untouchable.

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