Miami University paid $40,000 for former Ohio governor John Kasich to give a speech on civility at its Hamilton campus earlier this month, the Dayton Daily News learned through a public records request.
The contract between Miami and Kasich’s talent agency, Greater Talent Network LLC, called for Kasich to participate in a sound check, invitation-only dinner, speech, question-and-answers and a public reception as part of the Harry T. Wilks Distinguished Lecture Series on Nov. 13.
“From my perspective, paying such a fee is ridiculous and outrageous — the money could be better spent for other purposes,” said Cathy Wagner, an English professor and president of the Miami chapter of the American Association of University Professors. “Unfortunately, donors often leave monies that are restricted to particular purposes, and I suspect that the Wilks fund is earmarked for visiting lecturers or public events or some such.”
She added: “I sure wish that money could go to scholarships for needy students.”
Jim Lynch, a spokesman for Kasich, said: “The governor is grateful that so many businesses, universities, and organizations across the nation have asked him to share his experiences and life lessons on how we can strengthen the country, as well as drive change in our communities to make the world a better place.”
The contract between Miami and Kasich’s talent agency, Greater Talent Network LLC, included a rider that specified that Kasich be provided a five-star hotel room with a king bed and cool water on stage.
It also included: “Artist requires an armed security guard to remain with him for the entirety of the event, standing at the side of the stage during presentation. Standard security staff should also be on site at the venue for the duration of the event.”
Previous speakers in the series have included journalists, scientists and politicos with national profiles.
Kasich, a Republican, is no stranger to college campuses. After leaving Congress in 2000, Kasich landed a $50,000-a-year gig as a fellow at Ohio State University. The fellowship appointment also paid Kasich’s long-time political aide Don Thibaut $20,000-a-year.
As governor, Kasich called on colleges and universities to cut costs and force professors to teach more courses.
Wagner said Kasich’s policies put the squeeze on public universities.
“Kasich worked to keep them underfunded, promoting regressive taxes that keep big businesses and the rich from paying their fair share, and pushing for fast-track-to-graduation mandates and tuition freezes that are supposed to save students and parents money, but leave schools between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “ Kasich hasn’t been a friend to higher ed and it’s galling to see him benefit from it.”
After leaving office in January, Kasich has served as a commentator on CNN, given paid speeches at college campuses and elsewhere, and published a book. He has delivered speeches at Amherst College, Davidson College, University of Florida, Colorado University, Bowdoin College, American University, Molloy College and Miami.
Otterbein University in Kasich’s hometown of Westerville appointed him as a senior fellow — an unpaid position that comes with an office.
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