COLUMBUS, Ohio ― Ohio State University spent more than $600,000 on the search for its new president, including $186,000 for private jet service and about $220,000 for an executive headhunting firm, according to records released Tuesday.
Other expenses included $85,000 for an ad in the New York Times, part of $117,988 the university spent for a one-day symposium in August titled, “Who will lead America’s public universities in the 21st century?”
The documents released at the request of The Associated Press and other media outlets also show $23,000 paid to a retired Harvard professor who moderated the symposium for two months of consulting services; $1,496 for a steakhouse dinner for members of the committee working on the search; and $223.36 for a welcoming gift for the new president.
The seven-month search ended in January with the selection of University of California-Irvine chancellor Michael Drake as the 15th president of Ohio State.
Drake, who assumes his duties July 1, replaces former president Gordon Gee, who retired after remarks he made jabbing Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools were made public a year ago.
Gee spent a few months at Ohio State, then took a job at West Virginia University first as the interim president, and then as permanent president, returning to a position he first held in 1981.
Private donations covered the cost of the Ohio State search and no tuition or tax dollars were used, said university spokesman Gary Lewis.
Ohio State “constructed a presidential search process to ensure that we would find the very best leader to propel Ohio State forward at an important point in its history,” Lewis said in an email.
Messages were left with Drake and with Dallas-based headhunter William Funk seeking comment.