Alan Stockmeister, a native of Jackson, Ohio, and prominent gold refinery owner, was the most recent trustee appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Ohio State’s 20-member Board of Trustees. He’s also a top donor to Kasich’s party.
Stockmeister is a well-known businessman and longtime donor to various candidates in the Republican Party. In 2015, he was named the Jackson County Republican of the Year.
In this past election cycle, he gave more than $10,000 to Republican candidates, with a $2,700 contribution given directly to Kasich’s presidential campaign, according to public records reviewed by The Lantern.
Kasich has now appointed 10 board members midway through his second term as governor, and Stockmeister is not alone in backing Kasich financially. According to the Federal Election Commission database, contributions to his presidential run were made by six current board members he appointed.
Contributions of $2,700 — the most an individual can give to a candidate — were made by Stockmeister as well as board members Michael Gasser, Timothy Smucker, Erin Hoeflinger, Hiroyuki Fujita and Abigail Wexner. Those donations to the presidential campaign all came while they were current board members. Wexner also donated $1.5 million to a Kasich-aligned super PAC.
Stockmeister now becomes one of 15 board members with voting privileges, including two voting student trustees, who ultimately decide the university’s long-term course. Board members serve nine-year terms.
The board, according to its website, is entrusted with “oversight of academic programs, budgets and general administration and employment of faculty and staff.”
One high-profile decision facing the board in the coming months is whether to freeze tuition. Kasich’s budget proposal, issued earlier this year, called for a two-year tuition freeze for all public colleges, including OSU.
OSU has not increased its in-state, undergraduate tuition for five years, but University President Michael Drake told The Lantern in January that he could not, at that point, commit to another tuition freeze, though he didn’t rule it out either. Kasich’s budget proposal came out a week later.
The board is expected to make a decision this semester about the tuition freeze.
Along with a looming tuition decision, Stockmeister and the board will be tasked with making decisions about the university’s energy plan. The board began taking proposals last year to seek out private partners to help handle the university’s energy, including gas, water and electric.
Decisions moving forward on selecting a private company to work with OSU on energy as expected to come in the somewhat near future. Kasich recently praised OSU’s decision to privatize its parking with the 50-year deal it struck with CampusParc. The winning bidder could control the operation and maintenance of OSU’s utilities for 50 years. OSU’s privatized parking plan — which Kasich praised recently at the Ohio Newspaper Association conference earlier this month — is also set for 50 years.
Stockmeister told The Telegram — run by a Jackson County Broadcasting Inc., which is owned by Stockmeister — that he was first contacted about being a board member more than three years ago. When officially offered the position this past December, Stockmeister took the opportunity.
University spokesman Ben Johnson said the university welcomed Stockmeister.
“We appreciate the thought and consideration that Governor Kasich and his staff put into appointments to The Ohio State University Board of Trustees,” he said.
Stockmeister has a vast business portfolio, and is currently one of the owners of Dallas-based precious-metals conglomerate Elemetal, as well as chairman and CEO of Ohio Precious Metals Inc., a refinery located in Jackson County that focuses on gold.
The newest trustee has long-standing OSU ties as well, having started a $25,000 endowment in 1998 named the Alan Stockmeister Athletic Scholarship Fund. Stockmeister also has two children who currently attend the university.
His nine-year board term officially started on Feb. 3.
Stockmeister did not respond to requests for comment.