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Readers may be familiar with OSU President Gordon Gee’s aggressive campaign to privatize campus parking for a lump sum of cash, leaving the campus community paying more to park and depriving future university administrations of revenue for the next fifty years.

What’s unclear to us is why. In talks to campus groups, most of whom are opposed to the plan, Gee paints a gloomy picture of the school’s finances and threatens harsh consequences of not acting:

“Gee says parking could save OSU”
Ohio State’s future could be filled with huge budget cuts, layoffs and bigger-than-normal tuition increases if the university doesn’t consider taking a payout from leasing its parking operation, President E. Gordon Gee told professors yesterday.
Columbus Dispatch, June 1, 2012

Oh, so it’s to avoid job losses and tuition increases? Not so fast. In the very same article, the university outlines plans for spending the money:

Ohio State officials have repeatedly said that if the university were to get a $400?million payout from leasing its parking, $200?million would be used to hire more tenure-track faculty; $75 million would be used toward student scholarships; $75 million could go toward the campus bus service and improving other transportation; and $50 million would be used to support the arts and humanities.

So, rather than using parking funds to keep existing programs going at current levels in the face of state budget cuts, Gee plans to grow programs and departments? Meanwhile, he’s going around to professors threatening layoffs, while the University is saying they will actually hire more professors. Sounds less like belt-tightening and more like an emperor on an endless expansion mission who needs a quick cash infusion.

Reports today say the University is considering an offer to take over control of parking (and its revenues) by an unnamed bidder for 50 years in exchange for a lump sum of $483 million and permission to raise parking rates by 5.5 percent a year.

This is a horrible deal for the school and commuters.

At $28 million a year in parking revenue, OSU would be giving up $1.4 billion for that $483 million lump sum, assuming they never raise parking rates for fifty years. If they raised them the 5.5% a year allowed in the proposal, they’d actually lose out on $6.9 billion over that time. All so Gee gets nearly $500 million for who knows what.

Gordon Gee is the highest-paid college president in the nation and has been reported to milk the school for a ridiculous number of taxpayer and student-funded perks. And he’s been on a spending spree – building a $1 billion new hospital and $350 million in dorms (for his ridiculous plan of reqiuring sophomores to live on campus) – and now he wants a quick infusion of nearly $500 million more all to expand programs (or we suspect fill some holes in his ballooning capital improvement budget) at the expense of every OSU president for the next 50 years.

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