When taking over at the helm of Ohio State, Interim President Joseph Alutto promised to continue the university’s traditions. However, it seems he might not have kept pace with former-President E. Gordon Gee in every aspect.
Alutto’s travel expenses show a drastic decrease in spending and number of trips from what Gee racked up during his time as president.
Gee retired from his role as president July 1, days after controversial comments he made at a Dec. 5, 2012, OSU Athletic Council meeting came under public scrutiny. Alutto assumed the presidency after Gee’s retirement.
Between July 2013 and February 2014, Alutto took 19 trips during his time as president, costing a total of $127,137.
Meanwhile, during the same time frame in 2011-12, Gee took more than 80 trips. Records detailing Gee’s travel show more than $1 million in expenses from July 2011 to July 2013.
Some of that amount represents expenses for other people who might have shared flights or transportation with Gee or Alutto, Lauren Lubow, director of OSU’s Public Records Office, said in an emailed statement. The President’s Office is reimbursed for all or part of expenses if the other travelers or the primary business purpose of the trip involves another department, she added.
The Lantern requested the travel budgets and other records including salaries and performance reviews Jan. 23, and the request was filled March 24. Additional requests regarding Alutto’s travels were made April 18 and filled April 23.
Alutto took eight trips to various locations around Ohio, visiting branch campuses, attending donor events and going to four OSU football games at the university’s expense.
He traveled to the OSU versus University of California, Berkley game, costing $6,537, of which $931 went to lodging. The trip also included donor visits and an advancement campaign event.
Alutto also attended OSU’s game against Illinois, which cost $344, the Big 10 Championship Football game, costing $7,392, and the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl, which cost the Office of the President $25,982.
In addition, Alutto took four trips to Washington, D.C., costing $40,513 total. The purpose for these trips included meeting with legislators and Ohio leaders.
Former Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp said he supports university administrators traveling to promote OSU’s image and seek potential donors.
“I think that (OSU does) an excellent job at raising money,” said Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs. “From time to time, that means going out and meeting with constituents, meeting with donors. My belief is an expenditure like that is worth it if you’re getting a good return on your investment.”
This story is part of a series about Ohio State’s administrators, including travel expenses and performance reviews over the last two years. The series was made possible by the generosity of Ohio State and The Lantern alumna Patty Miller.