Christopher Culley, who served as senior advisor to the president as well as the senior vice president and general counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs at Ohio State is leaving the university for a job at Georgetown University. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

Ohio State’s general counsel, who oversees the university’s major litigation — including lawsuits regarding abuse by former university physician Richard Strauss — is leaving Ohio State. 

Christopher Culley, who serves as senior adviser to the president and senior vice president and general counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs, accepted a position at Georgetown University as the vice president for enterprise initiatives, according to an Oct. 9 email from University President Michael V. Drake to members of his cabinet. 

Culley’s last day is Nov. 15, according to the email. 

“During my time at Ohio State, I have witnessed the University rise as a leader in the field of higher education all while continuing to fulfill its mission of a land grant institution through innovation, scholarship, teaching, research, and service. My experience at Ohio State has provided a platform of higher education experience that will serve me well as I assume my new responsibilities at Georgetown University,” Culley said in a statement. 

Culley’s departure comes amidst at least 14 Strauss-related lawsuits that have been filed against the university. Mediation between the plaintiffs and the university is ongoing

Strauss was the team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports and a physician at the Student Wellness Center at Ohio State from 1978 to ’98, during which he abused at least 177 students and student-athletes, according to a report released in May, following an investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP. The investigation also found that Ohio State failed to act on Strauss’ abuse at the time.  

Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

Culley joined the university in 1998 as deputy general counsel and has served as general counsel since 2004, the email states. According to the Office of Legal Affairs’ website, Culley’s responsibilities included legal issues in university governance and administration, legal services to the university’s areas of business and finance, construction, human resources, athletics and government relations.

Culley’s annual salary was $572,983.20, according to the Ohio State salary database. 

Drake said in the Oct. 9 email that Culley has helped guide Ohio State “through some of the more challenging moments in its history.” 

“I have appreciated Chris’ calm and thoughtful approach to problem-solving, his collegiality and his dedication to the university throughout our time together. I know he will be missed, but I am happy for him as he pursues this exciting new opportunity,” Drake said. 

During his time at Ohio State, Culley also oversaw litigation including a suit from former Ohio State marching band director Jonathan Waters, claiming the university and individuals at the university failed to provide due process and discrimination based on gender in 2014; and a 2017 suit from former linebacker Chris Spielman for using the likeness of Ohio State athletes around Ohio Stadium on the 64 Honda-sponsored banners without permission of the athletes and offering no compensation in return.

Beginning Nov. 16, Anne Garcia will serve as interim vice president and general counsel, a Nov. 6 email from Drake to his cabinet states. Garcia currently serves as senior associate general counsel at Ohio State and vice president for legal and compliance for the Wexner Medical Center. 

The university has launched a national search for a permanent replacement, and the search committee will be chaired by Morley Stone, senior vice president for research, according to the Nov. 6 email.

This story was updated with comments from Culley on Thursday at 4:52 p.m.