Ohio State University trustees on Friday rewarded President E. Gordon Gee’s efforts to bring more money and top talent to the university by giving him a 3 percent salary increase and $333,812 annual bonus, boosting his total compensation to $2.14 million.
The bonus is 40 percent of Gee’s base pay while the 3 percent salary hike is in line with what was awarded to faculty and staff this year.
Matt Mayer of Opportunity Ohio, a new free market think tank, said the bonus is out of line.
“I’m not going to begrudge him the 3 percent raise, but the bonus just seems excessive,” Mayer said. “I mean, he already gets paid so much money it just seems excessive in these fiscally tough times. He is a public servant. A 40 percent bonus for a public servant seems excessive. If he wants to make that kind of money, he should go into the private sector.”
Trustees praised Gee as a “bold, charismatic and visionary leader” who exceeded performance goals by raising $1 billion in new resources by privatizing the parking facilities, partnering with Huntington Bank and issuing a 100-year bond.
“Certainly the resource generation this year has far exceeded our expectations, our goals. In this economy, to have the kind of success with the issuance of the ‘century’ bonds, to go through the challenging and difficult process of privatizing the parking and the fundraising efforts were exemplary this year,” said Trustee Alex Shumate.
Gee’s compensation package for fiscal year 2013 includes: $859,566 base pay, $225,000 in deferred compensation, $333,812 bonus, $641,301 in supplemental retirement, and $85,467 in other retirement benefits. Last year, his $1.9 million pay package made him the highest paid CEO of a public university in the country, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“I don’t think it’s out of line with what Ohioans expect when they understand the process that we go through and we are focused on return on investment and this is a performance-based program,” Shumate said.
Aside from generating additional revenue, Gee earned high marks from the trustees for a successful transition from quarters to semesters, a banner year in fundraising, keeping the $1 billion medical center expansion on schedule and under budget, and creating a plan to require second year students to live on campus in the future.
Gee, 68, returned to the university five years ago and has two years remaining on his contract. Shumate said Gee “wants to stay long term” but the board has yet to discuss extending his contract. “If he continues to perform like he did last year, I don’t see any reason to make a change. He is committed and let’s face it, he has more energy than many, many people.”
Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Schottenstein said Gee has been able to attract top talent to Ohio State. “Our football team is 10-0. We want to be 10-0 in everything and you’re making it happen Gordon,” he told the president.
Gee thanked the trustees for the positive report on his performance and for the vote of confidence.
The Dayton Daily News reported earlier this year that Ohio State spent $7.7 million on Gee’s travel, housing and entertainment since he returned to Columbus. The university spent at least $895,000 for gatherings at the president’s mansion, $574,000 on private jet travel for Gee and $64,000 on his trademark bow ties, bow tie cookies, O-H lapel pins and bow tie pins for university marketing, according to OSU records.
The Daily News also found that the senior management staff under Gee has been expanded to 27, up from 20 under former president Karen Holbrook. The top 27 executives under Gee had a combined base pay of $11.86 million in 2011, plus another $2.2 million in bonus compensation. Holbrook’s senior staff made $6.1 million in base pay in 2006, plus another $490,000 in bonus money.
The average gross pay for top administrators under Gee increased 63.6 percent to $539,390, compared with $329,674 under Holbrook. During the same time, real median Ohio household income tapered off by 7.9 percent to $45,749, and in-state tuition and fees at OSU increased 20.4 percent, the Daily News found.
Also at the board meeting, eight students were ejected from the building after they confronted Gee and the trustees over a pending plan to hire a single licensee for all OSU-logo apparel. The students accused one vendor under consideration of having a poor labor record. Gee said his staff has met with the students more often than they had with the state legislature.
After giving the students a chance to speak, Gee told them to leave. Campus police hustled them out, demanded identification from each and threatened to arrest them if they returned.
Robert Battista, a sophomore from Buffalo who was among the eight, complained that a public university was ousting tuition-paying students from a public meeting in a public building.
He added that Gee’s bonus and compensation package is “absolutely insane.”
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