As a candidate for governor, Republican John Kasich has called on colleges and universities to cut costs and force professors to teach more courses.
Yet for seven years Kasich served as a “presidential fellow” at his alma mater, Ohio State University, in a role that paid him the equivalent of about $4,000 per campus visit.
“It sounds like a perk program for a politician that we can’t afford,” said Matt Mayer of the Buckeye Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank that has posted government salaries in an online database.
Rob Nichols, Kasich’s campaign spokesman, said: “John was paid in alignment with what OSU thought his teaching was worth. They thought his work there was valuable — they kept asking him back.”
The job was among the many hats Kasich wore in the years after he left Congress in 2000. Although other politicians, including Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman, have taught courses at OSU for no cost, Kasich’s role paid him $50,000 a year.
Then-OSU President Brit Kirwin invited Kasich to serve as a fellow in August 2001. Starting with the 2002 winter quarter and ending last year, Kasich worked roughly one to five days a month — guest-lecturing in political science, economics, finance and psychology courses, posing a question of the month to first-year Mount Scholars, and serving as a panelist at banquets and forums.
In a 2008 report to a securities industry regulatory group, Kasich said he worked at OSU four hours a month. OSU also paid $20,000 a year to his longtime political ally Don Thibaut. Richard Stoddard, special assistant to current OSU President E. Gordon Gee, said the program’s goal was “to have a variety of interaction with students. All we had was positive feedback,” Stoddard said.
Kasich said in 2008 in a report to a securities industry regulatory group that he worked at OSU four hours a month.
Kasich campaign spokesman Rob Nichols said, “John was paid in alignment with what OSU though his teaching was worth. They thought his work there was valuable — they kept asking him back.”
College campuses are hiring politicos and business leaders like Republican John Kasich to expose students to real-life problem solvers, according to the American Council for Education.
“Universities have all sorts of arrangements with people like John Kasich to bring them to campuses,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president at ACE, which represents 2,000 two-year and four-year public and private colleges.
“For the last few decades, colleges and universities have been encouraged to expose students to experts beyond the walls of academia ,” Hartle said.
In August 2001, then Ohio State University President William “Brit” Kirwan offered Kasich a loosely designed “formal association” that would bring the former congressman to his alma mater an unspecified number of times. The offer left it up to Kasich to define the job .
Hartle said OSU is a large institution with an interest in public policy; Kasich is a Columbus-area resident who chaired the House Budget Committee during an important time. “The school probably looked at it and decided it was a good thing to do,” Hartle said.
Former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Henry Kissinger teaches at Georgetown University, as does former Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, Hartle noted. And John Yoo, the deputy assistant attorney general who gave the Bush administration guidance on torture, is now a law professor at the University of California Berkeley. Other government officials have gone on to be college presidents or law school deans.
Among Big Ten universities, though, a former congressman getting paid a stipend to give guest lectures and make appearances seems less common.
The University of Michigan, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin and Indiana University all said they do not have similar arrangements with politicos. University of Illinois pays former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, a Republican, $177,630 a year in a full-time job at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs.
Kasich was paid $50,000 a year for roughly one to four visits a month. He served as a guest lecturer and worked with the university’s Mount Scholars, a select group of students who do public service projects as part of their degree program.
By comparison, full-time assistant professors at Ohio State had an average base salary of $64,410.86 as of June 2008, according to the Buckeye Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank that posts government salaries in an online database. Associate professors had a base salary of $78,543.53, and full professors $117,020.50.
Guest lecturers don’t always get paid. Republican Rob Portman, who is running for U.S. Senate, co-taught four courses at OSU’s Glenn School of Public Affairs without compensation. And astronaut and former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Glenn also receives no compensation for his role at the university, which has included giving talks, serving as an adjunct professor and meeting with students.
Kasich is only the third presidential fellow at Ohio State.
A chemist served three months in the job in 2006, earning $3,000. OSU trustees also contracted with a retired communications administrator, Malcolm Baroway, in 2000 and 2001 as a presidential fellow. During the fellowship, Baroway wrote the book “The Gee Years, 1990-1997 ” and was paid about $111,000 a year.
Kasich filed a quarterly schedule along with his “question of the month” that he posed to OSU’s Mount Scholars.
In May 2003, Kasich’s question: “Now that the war in Iraq appears to be over, some people are suggesting the United States should go after other 'rogue’ nations such as Syria, North Korea and Iran. Do you believe it should be U.S. foreign policy to topple governments that are undoubtedly 'bad’? Under what circumstances, if any, should the United States intervene militarily in another country? If there is hard-core evidence that one or more of the above named countries is actively engaged in activities that could harm the United States or any of its interests, does the United States have a moral right to take whatever action it deems necessary to prevent harm from taking place?”
Other Kasich questions dealt with reinstituting the draft, freedom of the press during war, giving up civil liberties in the age of terrorism, pork barrel spending and who was to blame for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina.
Kasich’s fellowship spanned three university presidents: Kirwan, Karen Holbrook and E. Gordon Gee, now in his second stint at OSU.
“We appreciate all of your activities with the University and are fortunate to have you share your experience and view with the students at Ohio State,” Holbrook wrote to Kasich in August 2006.
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