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Ohio State signs $200K contract with search firm


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With the look at specific presidential candidates set to begin in the coming weeks, Ohio State has begun tying up loose ends.

OSU finalized its contract with Dallas-based search firm R. William Funk & Associates Tuesday, about one month after it was announced the firm had been selected Aug. 16.

OSU will be paying the firm a fixed fee of $200,000 for assistance with recruiting a new university president. OSU officials signed the contract, which was issued Aug. 16 and signed by firm President R. William Funk Sept. 6, Tuesday.

Although typically the firm charges 33 and one-third percent of the total first year’s cash compensation plus bonus for the position it seeks to fill, it agreed to a fixed fee in this instance, according to the contract.

All requests for comment from R. William Funk & Associates were referred to OSU. When asked why the firm decided to charge a fixed fee instead of using its usual price protocol, OSU assistant vice president of media and public relations Gayle Saunders said those were “the terms of the negotiated contract” that had been agreed upon. Saunders was unable to immediately provide information about where the funds for the fee are coming from Tuesday night.

The firm will also be reimbursed for expenses related to the search in addition to the $200,000, including the cost of direct, out-of-pocket expenses, like candidate and consultant travel and lodging, which will be billed monthly, and as well as a $20,000 charge to cover the cost of administrative and support expenses, according to the contract.

Funk will be the consultant conducting the search, which includes meeting with the OSU Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, as well as contacting and interacting with the candidates.

Should the president selected leave the position within two years for any reason, R. William Funk & Associates will redo the search for no additional charge besides out-of-pocket and allocated expenses.

The contract states the services R. William Funk & Associates will provide are to be kept confidential — there will be no news items or public statements released, among other stipulations.

OSU officials have also said the candidates, including the finalists, will be kept secret.

“As the work of the Presidential Search Committee continues, it is important to establish a process that allows candidates to maintain some privacy, and it is with that consideration that the names of final candidates will remain confidential,” read a university statement emailed to The Lantern Sunday by Saunders.

Some OSU students said they do not agree with OSU’s decision to keep contenders confidential.

“I don’t understand why it’s (the presidential search) private because so many kids go here,” said Emily Lenke, a first-year who has not declared a major. “It definitely should be open because it’s a huge campus and we’re all a part of it.”

Jenny Kuzmic, a fourth-year in exercise science, said she thinks it “seems sketchy that they (OSU) want to hide” finalists.

Other students, though, said they didn’t expect it to go any other way.

“It (the presidential search) does affect us, but we are not at the higher tier so it’s not our job to select the president,” said Pam Dreiss, a third-year in art and technology.

Other details of the contract prevent R. William Funk & Associates from later attempting to recruit whoever is chosen for the presidency for the duration of that person’s contract with OSU, but exceptions of the rule include situations where university executives are seeking other employment opportunities with OSU’s knowledge or where officials were being recruited prior to Tuesday.

According to the contract, R. William Funk & Associates uses a search process that includes “potential candidate identification, recruitment and research, candidate contact, evaluation and presentation, interviews, referencing, background checks and assistance in the offer, negotiation, closure and transition management.”

It has been more than three months since OSU President Emeritus E. Gordon Gee announced his retirement June 4. Gee retired July 1, the same day interim President Joseph Alutto assumed the position.

The announcement of Gee’s retirement came days after controversial remarks Gee made at a Dec. 5 OSU Athletic Conference became public. Comments about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular, brought national attention.

OSU Presidential Search Committee Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth said July 19 the process is expected to take about 300 days based on how long searches take at other universities that are considering outside candidates.

At the Tuesday meeting, the advisory subcommittee presented an eight-page presidential profile, which describes the qualities of the ideal candidate, that OSU plans to send to potential candidates. The profile, drafted over the past month, is the first introduction candidates will have in determining whether they are an appropriate and realistic candidate for OSU’s presidency. The OSU Board of Trustees is set to approve the profile at its Nov. 7 and 8 meeting.

The advisory subcommittee members also worked on the development of the university portrait, a 30 to 40 page document intended to be a recruitment tool to inform candidates of OSU’s attractive qualities, Tuesday. The portrait was originally intended to be completed by mid-September, but Merritt said drafting only began within the last 10 days, so the finalization has been pushed back to early October.

Logan Hickman contributed to this story.

One comment

  1. The mainstream media has FINALLY picked up on the obscene and wasteful spending in support of the OSU presidential search. Good job Lantern in nailing this 8 months ago!

    OSU hired a Texas (read: out of Ohio) firm for $200,000 to “lead the search process,” AND they took out an $85,000 ad in the NYT (as opposed to something relevant, oh, let’s say, The Chronicles of Higher Education) for the job.

    New AP releases further report $185,000 for private jet service, $23,000 to a Harvard professor, and the costs for catered functions and gifts.

    What are the OSU trustees doing other than having parties and getting good football tickets?? Here’s a suggestion: MAYBE YOU COULD HAVE LEAD THE SEARCH PROCESS! Are they so incompetent that they (titan business leaders, mind you) cannot lead a recruitment without such massive spending — albeit supposedly buried in “donated funds”? One would think that “word would get around” sufficiently for such an open position. All this while the costs and debts for students at OSU continues to increase. Go figure. As my pappi always said: “Son, there’s book smart and there’s street smart.” Better yet: “ya can’t fix stupid.”

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