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Salaries, students and second-year goals: President Drake discusses key topics for Autumn 2015

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OSU President Michael Drake speaks during an interview with The Lantern on Sept. 3. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

OSU President Michael Drake speaks during an interview with The Lantern on Sept. 3. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

From the celebration of his investiture in the spring to his affordability tour throughout southern and western Ohio this summer, University President Michael Drake had a busy first year at Ohio State. Now, looking ahead to his second year, Drake said he anticipates the continuation of several previous initiatives and the possibilities that come with change.

Some of these changes — such as serving alcohol in Ohio Stadium during gamedays and the reworking of the Grade Forgiveness Rule to include all undergraduates — have been set in place, but other, long-term issues — such as off-campus safety, potential future tuition freezes and sustainability efforts — will be worked on throughout the year.

Drake sat down with The Lantern staff earlier this month to discuss some of the topics he thinks will affect students this year and what the OSU community can expect.

Tuition freezes and student finances

Drake expressed his hopes for the Board of Trustees’ decision to freeze tuition for in-state students, along with a hold on the rates for dining and room and board for all students.

One of the ways we wanted to help protect affordability was by freezing tuition and room and board, so that someone who graduates this spring will be paying the same tuition (he or) she paid as a freshman,” he said. “We opened incredible new residences on North Campus, state-of-the-art, and we were able to keep them the same price that everything was last year by not taking advantage of an agreed-upon built-in tuition hike.”

That way, he said, students can use that money to defray their college expenses.

Although in-state tuition was frozen at $10,037 — the same price it has been since the university froze in-state tuition for the 2013-14 school year — out-of-state tuition increased 3.1 percent, bringing it to $27,362 for the 2015-16 academic year.

Tuition also rose 3 percent for current international students — the same dollar increase as out-of-state students — bringing tuition to $28,362 for the 2015-16 academic year. New international students experienced a 6.4 percent increase over the current international rate, raising tuition to $29,302.

Drake said tension often develops when universities devote themselves to keeping college affordable while providing a quality education.

“We want to continue to be better and do more. And resources help us to do that,” he said. “But we also know that money comes from someplace, and (at) colleges in general, a lot of the funding comes from students. And it is very expensive in the best of circumstances and extraordinarily expensive in many circumstances.”

One of the ways the university tried to strike a balance between these competing goals was to take $15 million from university savings and devote it to affordability grants for students, Drake said.

We did that for the purpose of making the university more affordable, and we hope that makes a difference,” he said. “If we had low-income people who really didn’t have resources, we wouldn’t want tuition increases to decrease their opportunities to attend.”

Drake said that although keeping tuition flat forever would not be a reasonable expectation, he hopes to avoid the trend of “tuition zooms” that occur when a university holds tuition flat when state budgets allow for ample funding but then has to rapidly increase it when state support falters.

“Generally, when the state is not doing well, people are not doing well. And when people are hurting, the tuition zooms up,” he said. “What we would rather do is be more rational and say, ‘modest, appropriate, manageable increases in a predictable way are more important.’”

Administrator, faculty and staff salaries

Drake also touched on university employee salaries, which he said are based on “appropriate, fair compensation.”

“There are circumstances where people are extraordinarily talented and can contribute to a great degree. And there are parts of our enterprise that are very big business. We are a $6-billion-a-year business,” he said. “And so, we, in every case, want to have the very best people we can be doing the very best work, particularly when it is these great big things.”

Drake said the performance of individuals who can significantly contribute to the “university enterprise” is something that he thinks supports salary rates. Examples of this, Drake said, include OSU football coach Urban Meyer and physicians employed at the Wexner Medical Center.

“Urban Meyer has a really high salary. Urban Meyer is perhaps the most outstanding coach in college football today. He is very, very successful and runs an enterprise that generates enough to pay that high salary, and we are very happy to have Urban Meyer with us,” Drake said. “College sports is a different discussion, but in the arena of college sports, that is someone who has a very high salary but also performs at the very highest level.”

Meyer’s salary package for the current contract year is $5,860,000.

Drake said the same premise goes for faculty and staff members, and he added that the university acknowledges the impact salaries have on overall college affordability.

“We still want to make sure that everyone is paid something that makes sense and you can justify and say, ‘I see why we invest so much in that person. I see that it is well worth it,’” he said.

Looking to the future

Drake said members of the OSU community have a lot to be proud of.

The main thing I would want Ohio State students and faculty and community to remember — and it is important for us to remember things like this — is what an incredibly wonderful institution we have,” he said, noting the record-breaking qualifications of the class of 2019, the ranking of the Wexner Medical Center by U.S. News and World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” and several other accomplishments by university faculty and students.

Drake said these accomplishments are a “reflection of a really outstanding university” and he expressed his desire to continue the forward momentum.

“To be able to say those things, ‘most’ and ‘best,’ what a great sentence or paragraph that is. And those things are all true for us now,” he said. “Each of these things is really a great experience that I have tried to make sure I appreciate fully. And it is all of them together that makes this such a special place. I feel blessed to be here and I am excited every day.”


  1. So Urban is worth that money but the peons that make up the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of workers here aren’t? My overall performance review “grade” was exceptional (and has been for the past 9 years) and I got a $700 raise this year.

    • Someone got a $700 bonus? This OSU peon got a $500 “bonus” because the university “forgot” to give me the anniversary raises they are required to give me! I believe the new union contract stipulates somewhere around a 1% raise for the next 3 years. That doesn’t even cover cost of living.

      If I didn’t like what I do, I’d be gone! Each year working at OSU is a step down the ladder of success.

  2. Really – I hear you, and am a fellow peon in basically the same boat. Can anyone say wage inequality? And in terms of buying power (for us), actually steady decreases in the past several years. But, of course, parking costs at OSU continue to rise as does the amount of healthcare costs we must bear ourselves. Not to mention stuff like food, housing, and darned near everything else. Hmm, what’s wrong with this picture?

  3. OSU began, a few decades ago, to become a university of “elites & others.” It abandoned its “land grant mission” to provide quality, affordable, education to every Ohioan, in pursuit of Truth, abandoned it for the path of “progressive indoctrination,” corruption, and greed. No college coach is worth $5.8 million per year. The mission of “not-for-profit” universities is fundamentally different from “a $6 billion dollar business.” Our university president has clearly misunderstood this: “There are circumstances where people are extraordinarily talented and can contribute to a great degree. And there are parts of our enterprise that are very big business. We are a $6-billion-a-year business,” he said. “And so, we, in every case, want to have the very best people we can be doing the very best work, particularly when it is these great big things.”

    Shame on this president, shame on the Board of Trustees, and shame on the students, staff, faculty, and citizens of Ohio … for allowing this!

  4. Dear Chas,

    What if maybe the land-grant mission is kinda stupid? Perhaps the world has greater need, and OSU can provide a greater good to that end. Perhaps we shouldn’t based the university’s administrative policies off of a sentiment that a university with 50,000 undergraduates exists primarily to teach Ohio farmers how to farm.

  5. Dear Daniel,

    The land grant university that you disparage, was supported by hard working Ohioans (taxpayers) for over 140 years (there was a time when the state actually supported higher education). Lots of farmers were educated and supported by county extension agents and produced an abundance of food. Many more Ohioans learned the “mechanic arts,” an original goal. We even extended the mission a bit and allowed for teachers, nurses, doctors, dentists. Now, however, we are following the greed driven corporate model and paying some, orders of magnitude more than others, while privatizing everything that isn’t nailed down. I personally believe the best heart surgeon will fail if the operating and recovery rooms are not clean, however janitors get paid a pittance at this institution. Its a team effort, and the team is being ripped apart by inequality.

  6. The administration of our university looks out for themselves and not the rank and file. Did you know many of our administrators receive six figure bonus’s each year even when their goals are not met? If you don’t believe me look it up online. Patty Hill Callahan AVP of Medical Center Development received a $120,000 bonus last year. A bonus that was in addition to her nearly $400,000 annual salary. Michael Eicher, President of University Advancement received a similar bonus yet goals are rarely met and fundraising has not increased under his watch. The worst part in my opinion is these folks receive these salaries and bonus while the rank and file gets a 1% raise! Someone needs to dig deeper and look at what is happening at our university. These folks may command a significant salary but they should also be held to high standards. Morale is so poor in many areas of the university because of this continued arrogance from our leadership. I am so disgusted I recently retired rather than continue to be abused by our administration.

  7. Urban shouldn’t even be part of the discussion the athletics department is self sustaining. I think bringing Urban into the equation is Drake’s way of deflecting the magnifying glass . OSU Administrators are very often paid far too much for a public non profit. Check out this website but beware it will make you furious.


    Did you know that Eddie George is on our payroll with a six figure salary? He has a special appointment as a AVP in Advancement. He does not work regular hours and is paid a salary of over $140,000 per year. What about all of the highly paid Administrators in University Advancement? Since Michael Eicher (formerly Johns Hopkins) has taken over he has replaced many loyal longtime employees with “his” people from Johns Hopkins. These new hires are supposedly “extraordinarily talented” yet most had less experience then their predecessors. Their new salaries were significantly higher and they receive guaranteed bonuses? What the heck is going on? I barely get a 1% raise for exceeding expectations and Patricia Hill-Callahan SVP of Medical Center Development received a $123,000 bonus for not hitting the fundraising goal. BTW, this is on top of her $382,000 regular salary, a salary that more than doubled from the previous year!!!

    Someone needs to wake up and investigate our University Administration and Leadership. Public Records requests alone do not do the trick the right questions need to be asked. Employees are directed to redact and change documents prior to them being released. I know because I was one of the employees asked to change a document. There is a lot of abuse that goes on behind the scenes that needs to be exposed. I am ashamed of our university and it makes me sick that these people are out only for themselves and don’t care a lick about the students or the people of Ohio.

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