Ohio

Eye on Education

Dayton Daily News Exposes the Many Perks of Being E. Gordon Gee

Ohio State University

E. Gordon Gee is the president of Ohio State University.

Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee’s university expenses rival his actual salary and compensation, the Dayton Daily News reports. And the guy has made $8.6 million since joining Ohio State in 2007.

In fact, Gee is the best-compensated university president in the country, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of 2011 data.  Gee got a $160,000 pay bump last year. And he doesn’t apologize for the size of his paychecks:

I’ve been at it a long time. I run a huge operation. I don’t make any excuses for that. I believe I earn that pay every day. And I have enormous responsibilities. I make decisions that are billion-dollar decisions almost every day.

Here are the highlights of the Dayton Daily News investigation:

  • Gee’s discretionary spending far exceeds his predecessors’ and peers’:

    Under Gee, discretionary spending leapt 68.5 percent over what [former Ohio State president Karen] Holbrook had been averaging during her five-year tenure… The presidents of UT-Austin and the University of Michigan appear to spend considerably less than Gee on entertainment and travel. Both, too, earn less in compensation.

  • Gee’s publicly financed expenses are not easily viewed by the public:

    Gee’s spending is kept out of the public eye because it can be tallied only by examining multiple reports, including the quarterly discretionary expense reports delivered to the trustees and not easily obtainable by others. The Daily News first requested records documenting Gee’s work day, housing, American Express statements, travel expenses, discretionary spending reports and other data in September 2011. The university did not fully respond to the request until August 2012.

  • Ohio State says much of the spending is necessary to raise more money for Ohio State. And the Daily News reports that the school pays for Gee’s travel, entertainment and housing expenses out of its endowment, rather than out of tuition payments or tax dollars.
  • But the Daily News also points out that Ohio State is falling behind other Big 10 schools in the size of its endowment, and that the endowment could be spent on other things, like scholarships or reducing tuition and fees.
  • Also, Ohio State spends on lot on branding Gee’s bowties:

    The university spends tens of thousands of dollars alone branding Gee around his signature bow ties. Since 2007, Ohio State has spent more than $64,000 on bow ties, bow tie cookies and O-H and bow tie pins for Gee and others to distribute, the newspaper found.

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