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John Zeiger appointed as Ohio State’s newest Board of Trustees member

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The Board of Trustees at a 2017 meeting at the Longaberger Alumni House. Credit: Matt Dorsey | Engagement Editor

John Zeiger, a prominent Columbus lawyer and Ohio State graduate, is the newest member of the OSU Board of Trustees following his appointment from Ohio Gov. John Kasich on May 15.

The appointment was announced this month in a press release sent out by the governor’s office.

Zeiger has experience as a trustee, serving as a board member for the Grant-Riverside Methodist Hospitals from 1998 to 2002, and as chairman from 2001 to 2002. He was also a trustee for the Methodist Theological School in Ohio for nearly 20 years.  

Zeiger received his bachelor’s degree from OSU in 1969 and graduated from the university’s law school in 1972.

Upon his completion of law school, Zeiger worked for various law firms before starting one of his own, Zeiger, Tigges & Little LLP.

According to the firm’s website, Zeiger, Tigges & Little LLP has consistently ranked among the best in the country. Zeiger has also been recognized by the National Law Journal as a top lawyer in Ohio.

Zeiger and his firm made headlines in 2014 for their role in keeping would-be Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl off the gubernatorial ballot.

In total, the law firm was paid $300,000 by the Ohio Republican Party after their reported involvement challenging the Libertarian campaign. After the challenges were made, it was ruled that signatures on petitions nominating Earl to the gubernatorial ballot were invalid, which led to a suspension of Earl’s campaign.  

The law firm was paid by the Ohio Republican Party executive committee after Kasich won re-election in November 2014.

Zeiger continues a trend of OSU trustee members financially-backing Kasich and his party. Zeiger and his firm gave donations to congressional campaigns for Rep. Steve Stivers and Rep. Pat Tiberi, as well as a contribution to the Ohio Republican Party just months before representing them in court, according to public records reviewed by The Lantern.

Kasich has hired on a majority of the current board members, having selected 11 total throughout his time as Ohio’s governor, with six donating to his 2016 presidential run.

Not all state schools appoint board members the same way. While Kasich has full responsibility of board appointments, pending state senate approval, Michigan State and Michigan have their eight board members publicly elected by Michigan voters. At universities such as Penn State, Indiana and Purdue, alumni select a portion of the board.

Zeiger now becomes one of 15 board members with voting privileges, including two voting student trustees, who ultimately decide the university’s long-term course. Board members serve nine-year terms. Zeiger’s term officially started on May 15 and will run until May 13, 2026.

Kasich recently proposed shortening trustees terms as part of his new budget plan. He appoints all board of trustee members at Ohio’s 14 public universities. The governor wants to shorten the current nine-year terms to six years.

The current budget proposal was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives but is still awaiting approval from the Ohio senate. If approved, the new six-year trustee term limit would not apply to members already on boards across the state.

OSU welcomed its newest trustee addition in a statement from spokesman Ben Johnson.

“We welcome John Zeiger to Ohio State and look forward to seeing him at the upcoming board of trustees meeting,” Johnson said. “As always, we appreciate the time and attention that Governor Kasich and his staff devote to appointments to The Ohio State University Board of Trustees.”

Zeigler replaces Columbus author Linda Kass on the board. The next board of trustee meeting, where Zeiger will be officially welcomed, will take place June 9.

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