Dr. Sheldon Retchin’s resignation as Wexner Medical Center CEO in May doesn’t appear to have eliminated his influence on Ohio State’s public health agenda.

Despite complaints from top doctors on Retchin’s leadership style, which led to his resignation, the former CEO has been serving as Senior Advisor to President Michael Drake for Health Policy as of July 1, according to his contract with the university obtained by The Lantern.

Following his resignation on May 9, he stayed on with the university for May and June to “perform transitional duties as assigned by (Drake)” at his previous salary of more than $1 million, according to his contract.

His base salary in his new role as advisor will be $500,000, with an additional $600,000 going toward retirement each year through 2019.

Beginning July 1, 2019, Retchin will resume his position as a tenured professor in the College of Medicine and a courtesy faculty appointment in the College of Public Health.

“Sheldon Retchin is a nationally recognized leader in health care policy and will make important contributions at Ohio State during his two-year administrative appointment,” university spokesman Chris Davey said in an email. “Specifically, he will advise the university concerning the critical issues of health care reform, Medicaid policy and data-driven improvements to health outcomes. He remains a valued member of our faculty.”

Dr. Sheldon Retchin
Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Both Drake and former Ohio State Board of Trustee Chairman Les Wexner praised Retchin’s hiring in 2014. In fact, Retchin’s hiring was cited by the Board of Trustees as reason for Drake’s first $200,000 bonus, received in 2015 and again in 2016.

The deal in place to keep Retchin with the university in his various new roles was signed just hours before his resignation was made public on May 9.

Retchin stepped down as both CEO and executive vice president of health sciences after a letter surfaced on May 1 from top doctors at the medical center criticizing his leadership style and the work climate at the medical center.

The first letter — signed by 25 physicians and professors within the university, many of whom are division heads — claimed that Retchin’s leadership style does not align “with the university’s values of excellence, integrity, transparency and trust.”  

“Over the past three years of Dr. Retchin’s employment, we have witnessed a continuing decline in faculty morale and erosion of mission focus,” the letter stated.

Retchin, in turn, was seemingly forced out after talks between the unhappy doctors and Ohio State senior administrators stalled.

“These baseless accusations have damaged me and the University I love,” Retchin said in the statement announcing his resignation on May 9. “I cannot allow this to continue and so I have decided that it is in the best interest of the institution and me and my family to step aside, effective immediately. I will be taking a leave of absence and then will assume a new role at the University to pursue health policy research and teaching.”

It appears as if the leave of absence that Retchin spoke of never actually took place; Retchin was performing transitional duties starting May 10.

In addition to the compensation outlined in the release agreement, Retchin also was given the opportunity to approve of the wording in the press release regarding his departure, according to his contract with the university.

Ohio State is still looking to fill both the CEO and executive vice president roles.