November 24, 2014

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Ohio State to spend $2M on president’s residence

COLUMBUS — Ohio State is shelling out $2 million to update and remodel the mansion that houses the university’s president, just seven years after spendin $1.3 million on a previous renovation of the house, university officials said. Incoming president Gordon Gee officially takes office Oct. 1. He’ll stay at a hotel on campus until next spring, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

Gee said he views the residence as a sort of bed-and-breakfast, where he can host donors, dignitaries and world leaders. Renovations to the Ohio State mansion will be paid for through private donations to the University Foundation, the private fundraising arm of Ohio State which owns the pre-1920s home, said James Schroeder, the foundation’s president. No tax dollars will be used, he said.

The 9,630 square-foot house in the Columbus suburb of Bexley is valued at about $2.6 million. The property includes a guest house, pool, tennis courts and a bath house.

Half of the $2 million will be spent on remodeling and the remainder will pay for furniture, paintings and other decorations, the university said.

Gee was criticized at Vanderbilt University, where he was chancellor from 2000 until this summer, for spending $6 million to renovate the historic, school-owned mansion where he lived.

He said he made up for the money spent by Vanderbilt by raising more than $1.2 billion for the school and helping to grow the university’s endowment.

Vanderbilt’s governing board last year tightened financial oversight of Gee after the spending was detailed by The Wall Street Journal. In July, he asked for similar scrutiny of any renovations he makes to his Ohio State residence.