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Ohio State trustees give brief forum for band complaints after protests overshadow meeting

Band parent Maryann Kimbro talks to media after her outburst drew attention at the end of Friday's Board of Trustees meeting.

Band parent Maryann Kimbro talks to media after her outburst drew attention at the end of Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. Credit: Daniel Bendtsen / Asst. arts editor

When the Ohio State Board of Trustees met Friday morning, its purpose was to hear committee reports and approve decisions on its agenda. The proceedings, however, were largely overshadowed by people protesting the firing of marching band director Jonathan Waters.

In the hour before the meeting, band alumni and others met outside the Longaberger Alumni House. Many came with their instruments and sheet music, playing songs as a plane flew over bearing a “We Stand With Jon” banner.

Board meetings rarely become a media frenzy, but local television and radio news outlets came out to film the proceedings and document the actions of protesters.

The protesters’ presence did not go unacknowledged by the Board, and a representative of the supporters, Gary Leppla, was invited by the Board to speak for five minutes at the end of the meeting.

Leppla, a member of the Board of Governors for the TBDBITL Alumni Club, expressed concern about the university’s investigation into the band culture.

“What perfect storm led to these events that we could have never seen coming? What forces within the university? What departmental issues? We should explore that,” he said.

He further said he was shocked Waters’ character was questioned.

“(Waters is) one of the finest people most of us know,” he said. “I’ve heard it said that sometimes the tallest tree in the forest is the one that gets struck by lightning. Well, maybe that helps us understand what happened here.”

Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation into the band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it. Though Waters asked to be reinstated, Board Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth and President Michael Drake have said they will not consider rehiring him.

Leppla said videos of the protests were sent Friday morning to band members on the bus to the OSU vs. Navy football game in Baltimore Saturday. He was told there was an outbreak of cheers and tears as a result.


He also said he hopes the administration won’t ignore the call for reinvestigation by Waters’ supporters.

“We’ve never conceded that this discussion is over. We believe that it’s the early chapters of a book,” he said.

His remarks were followed by lengthy applause by members of the audience, and a few trustees even joined in.

After thanking Leppla, Wadsworth aimed to appease protesters by noting the continuing investigation by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis, however, distributed a written statement from Wadsworth which made it clear the forum given was no indication that the Board would re-address Waters’ status.

“The university will not be reconsidering past decision regarding leadership of our world-class marching band,” his statement read. “We are mindful of the effect this transition is having on many current and former band members and supporters, and we are committed to working through this together as a community.”

The five-minute speech was not sufficient for some protesters, however, and Maryann Kimbro, who identified herself as a parent of a band alumnus, shouted at the trustees after the meeting was adjourned.

“Take two seconds to listen: I owe $80,000 to this university, and my son is humiliated to put his name as a band member on a resume … and the fact that you’re walking away is pitiful,” she said.

Along with his many supporters, Waters’ family was reportedly also in attendance.

Drake also gave his first presidential report to the trustees at the meeting, however, he didn’t address the marching band controversy or Waters’ firing. Instead, he talked at length about his many positive experiences since coming to Columbus, such as participating in Pelotonia and the Ohio State Fair.

Some Waters supporters did not hide their disdain for Drake, scoffing under their breath during his remarks.

Drake mostly watched the rest of the meeting, save for compliments he gave the OSU Wexner Medical Center. An ophthalmologist by trade, Drake praised the Medical Center for having an observed mortality rate of patients that was about one-third less than expected.

“That represents hundred of lives saved … really a remarkable achievement that makes a difference every day forever for those families,” he said.

The Board also heard a report on the status of construction projects at OSU. Most projects were considered to be safely on budget, though two were listed as being on-budget to-date but with concern. The North Campus Residential District project received this classification due to increased construction costs, and the East Regional Chilled Water Plant is also a cause for concern because of  the increased price of the “distribution of mechanics,” said Finance Committee Chair Michael Gasser. Both are being “monitored closely, and contingency plans are in place,” he said.

The same report also heard testimony for a plan to educate people about pedestrian safety around the construction of the North Campus Residential District.

Timothy Smucker, chair of the Governance Committee, proposed and the Board approved a bonus for former Interim President Joseph Alutto of $187,500, which was about 30 percent of his base salary. Smucker said the bonus would not come from taxpayer or tuition dollars.

Earlier in the day, the Medical Center Board met to discuss the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, give expansion updates on the new hospital and to propose a new ambulatory care center location.

Board members opened the meeting by voting on approval for several patient care services, safety plans and clinical quality management across the Medical Center.

Dr. Steven Gabbe, senior vice president for health sciences, then presented an overview of the Medical Center budget plan.

The budget included plans for more surgical space in the new hospital as well as an increased number of beds available for patients, Gabbe said. He also said prices at the Medical Center wouldn’t increase for a third straight year.

The board took some time to congratulate Dr. Ali Rezai and Chad Bouton, a researcher at Battelle, for combining engineering and medical technology to allow a quadriplegic patient to flex his hand and finger muscles. Rezai and Bouton developed a microchip which communicated signals from the patient’s brain to his muscles. The Medical Center expects to see five total patients take part in this trial and hope to use similar technology on patients with strokes, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, Rezai said.

The meeting concluded with a proposal for an Upper Arlington ambulatory care center.


  1. Yeah, sure..........

    People are rethinking donations, companies are refusing to let the band use their music………..the admin thinks if they sit there with their fingers in their ears going la la la that we are going away, they are sadly mistaken.
    This was a politically motivated assassination, plain and simple and thinking people are not going to stand for it.

  2. “our world-class marching band”. The same band vilified by grossly incompetent, over-paid state employees and subjected to far-reaching character assassination? The same band that’s now the blunt of jokes in the national media, including public radio? The same band that will display a level of commitment, compassion, and comradery this Saturday far out-classing the elite “leadership” of tOSU?

    If only the Trustees were world-class.

  3. Hey folks…band was doing a bunch of inappropriate stuff. Guy didn’t fix it. Too bad it was so inbred in the culture, but it has to get fixed. Too bad he got caught in the crossfire, but the shooting should have started decades ago. What was happening was WRONG! Let’s Buck Up and move on.

  4. WOW plutocrats at worst. This is the worst board OSU has ever had. Their sins will come to find them out also. They all have skeletons including Drake. The tide will eventually turn and we will get a board that will have some common sense. We have lost a great University President as in Gee because of a joke he said. This board needs to rethink their process instead of crucifying people that disagree with them. I am calling for the current president and board to resign.

  5. NYBuckeye; you have no idea if what the band did was wrong or not because you were never in it and obviously have not read the 1st hand reports of those who were. I encourage you to go to bandtruth.org to read the truth. Being informed is a good thing.

  6. Today, those who could show up, were the prelude to next week. Next Saturday night, on national TV, the concerto will be in full glory. Imagine ramp, the band will get a standing ovation from 106,000+ faithful; Then, throughout the game chants of “We Stand With Jon Waters” or just “Waters”; loud enough that it will be heard in every living room tuned to the game. Add to this, commentators providing background and sideline interviews favorable of Jon Waters and the band. And, if some one paid for it, a “We Stand with Jon Waters” on the blimp circling overhead.

    This is not over by a long shot. The Board of Trustees made it clear today that they do not need more convincing they made a mistake.

    The true people, who should be held accountable, are those who led the band and the School of Music, before Jon Waters became director of the band; and, the Title IX compliance office if full of, for no better term, incompetents. finally, that other unknown parties, at Ohio State, had a political axe to grind and were willing to do everything, including risk the reputation of Ohio State, in the process.

    The more we see President Drake, the OSU administration, Board of Trustees and the OSU Alumni Association (which is suppose to be independent of the OSU administration, but no longer seems to be) play “duck and cover; then run”, there more their credibility sinks. And with it, the reputation of Ohio State.

    A number of alumni and contributors are ready to apply the nuclear option; withhold all donations to Ohio State. We, as alumni, do not want to do this, because it hurts the students. But, we have an administration which have already hurt the students, alumni, current and former band members. What they did in a mere few weeks, was to undo great gains made since Ohio State was founded, in 1870.

    The administration, Board of Trustees and the leaders of the OSU Alumni Association have failed the students and alumni of Ohio State. The have brought shame on the great university and deserve to be replaced. This is now more than firing a band director, the is about what lengths, those in charge, will go to protect their political interests.

  7. Okay okay.
    We’ve heard all the argument from Waters supporters, you’ve got your answer from the BOT that they don’t intend to bring him back.
    If your case is so strong take it to court.
    Actual court.
    Not the court of public opinion or immature shouting across the room at the BOT.
    Pay your lawyer to do what they do…
    In COURT.

  8. Buckeye in the West

    “So sue me”, sure it is going to end up in court; when it does, it is going to be ugly. Common sense, and admitting a mistake, would save Ohio State from further eroding of its reputation.

    Win or lose, the same people are sill in charge at OSU; who will feel they can do anything without any form of consequences. The same people who sold parking, to an outside for profit concern, for 50 years, and the other gem, the failing, South Campus Gateway.

    Maybe, you are comfortable with OSU turning into their personal fiefdom, but many alumni are not.

  9. So sue you?!? In the words of Oliver Hardy, “That’s a good idea!” Hope Waters follows through.

  10. When people go to college they are usually 18 years of age. Sometimes in life, things do not go your way. But you live, learn, and mature. You also develop character. Move on. I am doubling my alumni contributions simply because of the outcry of these big baby protest. Waters is not coming back. Who cares that he is applauded? If Waters had any class or true character, he would tell his supporters to also move on.

  11. Waters has an easy case simply because they failed to follow state protocol, however. . .He doesn’t want a big cash award. He wants his job back. Hard to get your job back after you file suit.

    Still the report the university is leaning on is still liabelous toward every alumni the band had ever had. They too have a case. The high road is to not have the single largest Ohio State alumni club sue the university. . .they’re giving the university every chance to avoid that.

    Each possible case I’ve mentioned doesn’t rest so much on what has been reveled, but HOW it was reveled and handled. The university botched this so badly that to win in court, Waters and TBDBITL don’t even have to argue the dirty details inside the report.

  12. Sad story – along with others stating that supporters should give up and move on, get over it, or “have some class” – you are missing the point entirely of the majority of this uproar. People are concerned with how this situation was handled because he was terminated without due process. If there is real evidence of Waters wrongdoing, where is it? Secondly, if Waters was held to such stringent standards why are other faculty and staff allowed to bypass these standards? If one man is held accountable then all faculty and staff must be held to that same standard. On top of that, should students organizations be held to these standards. If so, you might as well kick off every single fraternity and sorority from campus for promoting a “sexual culture”. Please do not be so ignorant that Greek life does not promote the same “sexual culture”.

  13. Buckeye in the West

    “Sad Story” at this point is is not about Jon Waters, but the collateral damage the Ohio State administration caused to its students and alumni; in the band and not in the band. Like Penn State, Ohio State has been branded with a bad reputation. Music publishers do not want to license music to Ohio State, because of the so called “investigative report”. Alumni, and students, are being ridiculed in public. The university has become the bad end of a number of jokes.

    In other words, the administration, in order to save the reputation of Ohio State, did quite the opposite.

    This “big baby protest” you speak of, is to right a wrong. Not just for Jon Waters, but for thousands of other people associated with Ohio State. The report has been debunked, not only by this newspaper, but several media outlets in Columbus. Right now, the Ohio State administration could be facing a wrongful termination suit, denial of due process suit, and suits that can be brought by the band members, their alumni and alumni, in general, for libel and slander. The latter, for tainting the so called “Ohio State brand”, which makes an OSU degree less prestigious.

    Now you see that there is more at stake than the job of one man. I stand by my earlier comment, as do other in support of getting this cleared up, so we all can “move on”. But, in its present state, we cannot do so.

  14. Jonathan Picking

    Sad story – I believe in OSU and I believe in its mission. I teach undergraduate science, which I believe is important the future. I do not accept the current leadership and their contempt for students and truth. This will be a problem that must be solved whether Jon Waters is reinstated or wins an ugly court case.

  15. Sad Story – please provide your real name, the names of your three sons that marched in the band and the names of your closest friends. I will drag their good names through the mud, call them liars and perverts. And then tell you to move on, you big baby.

    OSU screwed up big time. Mr. Glaros wasted two months pretending to interview witnesses, then wrote a report that left out most of their comments and twisted most of the rest of what they said so that he could create a name for himself. OSU now has to lie to cover the lies. Starting earlier this week, they have begun to call those who provide evidence that their story is incorrect liars.

  16. In the Today Show interview, Mr. Walters acknowledged that the sexualized culture did exist as pointed out by the report. I read part of this report and found it to be totally repulsive. This includes the items brought up during the interview, which Mr. Walters did not dispute. Mr. Walters stated that he needed more time to improve the culture and that “it doesn’t change on a dime”. When asked why he didn’t try to change the culture when he was Asst. Band Director for the past 10 years, he claims that “he did try but couldn’t change total band policy”. Honestly, after viewing the video it appears that Mr. Walters had ample opportunity to improve the band culture. It is time to move on!!!!

  17. Buckeye in the West

    “Enough Already”. Did you ever think that Dr. Jon Woods, the former band director, might have something to do with any of this? My take, from the interview, was Jon Waters could only work within the parameters set forth by Dr. Woods. Ever hear of micromanagement? Ever hear of insubordination? Ever hear of a manager bullying and threatening their employees? We do know that the “sexualized culture” existed before Jon Waters became band director and Jon Waters started changing it, after he became band director.

    The only person who can speak truthfully, and openly, about the years after Dr. Droste retired and Mr. Woods took over the band, is Dr. Jon Woods. Who has remained silent. Is he Ohio State’s secret witness or does Dr. Woods have his own secrets to tell? If this ends up in court, then we may actually find out.

  18. tOSU management has caused the uproar here, not Waters, the students, or alumni. If one reads more than a tOSU press release, it’s no wonder the university has serious Title IX management issues. The Department of Education is right to place them on the A-List. Good grief, if the Pride of the Buckeyes have issues, can you imagine what goes on in other programs? If this were a much more serious, criminal incident, would the administration’s actions be as inept? Only a lapdog trustee should be able to sleep at night worried about this.

    I’m sick of the “move on” comments, especially from tOSU employees. They’re the ones that should feel humiliated, be the butt of jokes, and avoid listing tOSU experience on a resume – not the students. If not for the students, these folks would have serious issues finding employment elsewhere.

    It’s bad enough our youth have to pay (or go in debt) for poor leadership, but each generation generally learns from the stupid adult tricks. Apparently those that do not choose careers in higher education.

    And some very wealthy people owe a deep, sincere, and public apology to the youth and former-youth the are supposed to be guiding – not ridiculing. They won’t believe you, but it may stop the bleeding until your actions cure the disease.

    Disciplinary action is warranted. But obviously for many, not one.

  19. Don’t take the “just sue them” bait. These outside agitators don’t know the first thing about OSU’s highly professional band program. Their flippant accusations betray their ignorance. TBDBITL should keep on fighting this in the streets, in the Court of Public Opinion, where the Wadsworth/ Drake lawyer goons have no credibility and no influence. Also, the current band should not answer that ridiculous fishing expedition questionnaire from Betty Montgomery. She nothing more than a bought and paid for politician. She took campaign contributions in 2006 from a Drake California crony.

  20. BuckeyeJDinChicago

    I will not donate a cent to the University as long as the current Board Chairman & overpaid President are on those positions. They have brought disgrace to this great University. It probably would take years to undo the damages to the band and the University. Too bad.

  21. Debbie Testement

    Our new President from California & his buddy from California, head of BOT-Wadsworth, along with their highly paid Chris Glacos, just another fellow Stanford buddy graduate who did the flawed report taught me a valuable lesson! Stay in California!
    You: 1) Under Title IX compliance are not choosing to investigate your Stanford University & it’s band? Google that band & you will understand! 2) Bring to my alma mater a level of Arrogance, DC generated Power & “politically correctness” I have never before seen at Ohio State; 3) Have chosen in your “rush to judgement” non-factual non-investigative report a personal resume/reputation destruction of not only Jon Waters but every single band member current & past …smeared decades of voluntary hard work & discipline & dedication of a band that is the pride of all of us; 4) Think maybe that us alumni are just a bunch of Ohio Bumpkins & you will teach us your California, DC, New York ways of doing things! Guess again? Across our planet, Ohio State gave us a great education & we are very accomplished & We Will Stand Up for Jon Waters, Our Band, Our Great University & yes Ohio State Common Sense 101, Ohio State Truth & Honesty Will Prevail at the end of the day!

  22. Debbie Testement

    Please leave our very esteemed & very well respected previous band director, Dr. Jon Woods, out of this discussion. He has very serious health issues & I am very sure if he could he would be an excellent voice of reason & common sense 101!

  23. Buckeye in the West

    “Debbie Testement”. Unfortunately, Dr. Woods needs to make a statement. This incident affects him, as much as anyone else who was associated with the OSUMB. His name is being dragged through the mud, like everyone else in this sad state of affairs.

  24. “Buckeye in the West” I absolutely do think prior band directors should be held responsible. They obviously failed to change this culture. However, Waters was the man in charge when this went down. Ever hear of taking responsibility for your actions?? I don’t care if a superior is a micro manager or a control freak. As Asst. Director for 10 years, Jon should have brought this sick culture to the attention of the board of Trustees!! I may not agree with the comments posted, but I do respect the opinion of others. Time to move on!

  25. Don't Let Up Lantern

    My my my. What a brave scene by band mom Mary Ann. That lady gets the blue ribbon for voicing Truth to power at yesterday’s board meeting. If I could give her a hug I would…and I do in a virtual way right here in this forum. The other local media and feedback channels have all but dried up and blown away…the long arm of big daddy OSU with its hand on the teat of prized cash cow (read: unfettered media access to osu football) muscling them into silence. Kudos to you Mary Ann for speaking up when the beyond-reproach Wadsworth banged the gavel and tucked tail with the rest of the board trailing him to run to their cars.

  26. Don't Let Up Lantern

    “Enough already”: the inconvenient truth you are perhaps failing to recognize is the FY14 OSU performance review of Mr Waters. It was pretty good if my recollection serves me. Where exactly is the standard procedure for corrective action that all university employees are afforded? Why was that policy ignored altogether and the overlords in Bricker and beyond went for the jugular instead? This speaks to the “due process” that all university employees are promised when they sign their annual contract…or in this case personnel review form. Do you care to address that or do you just want to move on, dispense with any formal perorfmance-improvement plans, and have anyone and eveyone fired/terminated at the first sign of trouble? Is that what you are proposing because it sure seems like you are.

  27. Request4Understanding

    It’s difficult to understand why some people are so negative & hateful and keep saying “get over it”. I would venture a guess that if it was their good name being dragged through the mud & misrepresented, they would be quick to jump up and defend themselves as well! Before we speak, we should put on the (marching band) shoes that many have marched in, then you will truly feel the effects of what has happened!

  28. Keep up the fight TBDBITL, TBDBITL Alum, TBDBITL parents and of course Jonathan Waters!

  29. Of course,Wadsworth,Steinmetz and Drake knew they were going to drag my alma mater through the mud…ruin the reputation of everyone associated the with band…especially Mr Waters.They did Not care.They started something they can’t finish.Their arrogance is second only to their poor leadership.They should be removed.No more donations .I think the alumni association is trying to walk a politically correct fine line….big mistake..Go Buck$$$$$$$$$$

  30. The first home football game is Saturday. A “white out” has been suggested for those attending.
    Wear white to show your support for the, band, band alumni and Jon Waters.
    Leave the scarlet at home since it matches the color that should be on the faces of the BOT.

  31. THE Ohio State University now A Ohio State University with “A” standing for arrogant.

  32. If the choice is between whose departure would most benefit the University, Jon Waters or that of Wadsworth and Drake, I think the answer is patently obvious. Through pure monetary pressure (as in the withholding of all contributions from the Aumni) perhaps the same idiots who thought pushing Dr. Gee out the door in such an ignanomous fashion in favor of this current dumpster fire of an administration, will come to there senses and show Wadsworth and his marienette Drake the door. I can’t imagine this President who has shown such contempt for due process and disregard for the consequences for his actions could ever recover the damage done to his reputation to successfully lead this institution that we all love.

  33. Buried in the story is the following: “Timothy Smucker, chair of the Governance Committee, proposed and the Board approved a bonus for former Interim President Joseph Alutto of $187,500, which was about 30 percent of his base salary. Smucker said the bonus would not come from taxpayer or tuition dollars.” So, where does this massive gift come from? Am I the only one concerned about the ebb and flow of mysterious funds like this while tuition continues to increase, and while staff are expected to pay more for incidentals? This amounts to a gift that apparently comes from a money tree growing somewhere, maybe up at Tim Smucker’s jelly farm. Someone at the Lantern needs to dig a little bit on this Board’s effort to make sure that the rich get richer just for (apparently) doing his job. This has a very fowl odor to it.

  34. “Enough Already”:

    When you talk about the “sick culture” of the band that you found “totally repulsive” after reading part of the report, which culture are you referring to?

    The one where I was supposedly given a nickname that’s a code word for anal sex? Because that is a lie. The report stated that the meanings behind our nicknames could be found on UrbanDictionary.com, and I was horrified when I saw that this was the definition they had listed for mine. It’s not even close. The majority of my social network knows me by this nickname, and most of those people didn’t know there was a meaning behind it at all – not because I’m embarrassed but because it never came up as a question. Now that this report has been published without my input I’ve been forced to do damage control by explaining to friends and family that the name I have used proudly for the last 5 years does not actually refer to a sex position. Had the investigators bothered to talk to me they would have known that.

    Or maybe you’re talking about the culture in which Jon Waters regularly referred to me by my “inappropriate” nickname, particularly when he was upset. Again, not true. He regularly referred to me by my legal name, which was typical of the way he addressed all of his students. And I struggle to remember a time he was ever outwardly upset with me; so the notion that he used my nickname as some form of discipline is absolutely ridiculous.

    Or could it be the culture in which I was forced by upperclassmen to rub chests with another female band member? You guessed it…wrong again. At no time were we asked or told by the senior members of the band to do anything of the sort. Unless you consider two women hugging to be sexual, which would be your problem and not mine, we’ve never “rubbed our chests together” in a remotely sexual way.

    The point I’m getting at here is that the culture of the marching band that I was in for 3 years is not “sexualized” or “sick.” Were there individual behaviors and people that were inappropriate sometimes? Sure. That happens when you get a bunch of young adults together in a large group. But those incidents were dealt with swiftly and appropriately by the band leadership whenever they were made aware. The overarching culture of the band is one of hard work, dedication, and support for one another. If it wasn’t, if it really was this sick pit of depravity that I somehow failed to notice in all my time there, then why did the university feel the need to use false examples to prove their point? Wouldn’t they have plenty of TRUE testimony to use if the culture was so bad?

    If the Glaros Report and the Today Show interview are all you’re basing your opinion on,I respectfully ask that you reconsider. It’s the university’s complete disregard for the truth that’s truly repulsive, and I for one will not be moving on from this any time soon.

  35. Take a look at UC Irvine (where Drake came from). They actually have a “Controversy” section for the issues on campus under his tenure.
    1. Aramark – food vendor with horrible employee treatment issues
    2. Hiring, firing, rehiring law school dean. (Acting without thinking – sound familiar?)
    3. Kickbacks from Capella (a for-profit school) for referring UCI students
    4. Long-running anti-semitism issues. UCI even sent students to the middle east and had meeting with terrorist organization Hamas

    The Zionist Organization of America, describing UCI as “a campus that permitted bigotry”, has called for college-bound students and financial donors to avoid UCI.

    Guess it’s time to create a “Controversy” section for OSU.

  36. “Not Fooled.” Neither are we. Hi Mike!!

    Don’t take the “just sue them” bait. These outside agitators don’t know the first thing about OSU’s highly professional band program. Their flippant accusations betray their ignorance. TBDBITL should keep on fighting this in the streets, in the Court of Public Opinion, where the Wadsworth/ Drake lawyer goons have no credibility and no influence. Also, the current band should not answer that ridiculous fishing expedition questionnaire from Betty Montgomery. She nothing more than a bought and paid for politician. She took campaign contributions in 2006 from a Drake California crony.

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