By Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: Former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee was tapped by Gov. John Kasich on Monday to lead a review of ways to improve the value of higher education.
Gee was president of five leading U.S. universities before retiring from Ohio State in July after remarks he made disparaging Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools became public. He recently led the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment in charting a strategy for improving college retention and attainment.
Kasich joined Gee at a conference of university trustees at Columbus State University to announce the new effort.
“I don’t know what they’re doing in other states, but in our state if we hold hands and think differently we can begin to impact our costs to make sure we preserve these great institutions well into the future,” Kasich said.
Gee said delivering value in higher education is “the question of our times.”
He will consult with higher education and business leaders and the University System of Ohio to recommend ways that colleges and universities can balance cost, quality and access.
His report is due to Kasich next summer.
At Kasich’s direction, Ohio’s public college and university presidents got together two years ago to identify the higher education construction projects they deemed most important for the state. Gee led that unusual collaborative effort among traditional rivals for state funding, which continues with this year’s budget process.
The collaboration has been coupled with a new performance-based higher education funding formula, which ties half of the state funding going to four-year institutions to graduation rates rather than enrollment figures, as well as basing funding for community and technical colleges on course completion.
Kasich’s latest effort comes as American colleges and universities face increased pressure to reduce tuition to students and more closely align their offerings to the job market. The administration wants to see K-12 and higher education course offerings closely blended with the goal of meeting Ohio’s workforce needs.
Gee has stayed on with the university as a full professor in the university’s College of Law, with an office and a secretary. His compensation package over the next five years totals $5.8 million.