Buckeye fans enjoy seeing Ohio State at or near the top of rankings for a variety of things including numerous sports, academics, and research spending. Thanks to the all-around strength of OSU, we’ve gotten rather used to seeing the university we love at the top of those lists. However, not every list is one that you want to be at the top of and OSU fans and alumni had that reinforced this week when the Institute for Policy Studies named Ohio State as the Most Unequal Public University in the country; several other Big Ten schools also had the misfortune of appearing on the list as the rest of the top five were Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan, and the University of Washington. The IPS rankings were based on a combination of high pay for top administrators, high student debt, and large increases in low-wage or contingent faculty labor.
The fact that last year OSU’s Gordon Gee was the highest paid president in the country, earning over $6 million a year, meant that the university automatically was under scrutiny in the administrative pay category. Now the fact that Gee got paid a lot isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Ohio State is a huge, complex university and the job of president comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Gee also did a very good job according to most reports and he connected well with the students.
Gee’s high salary does become an issue though when it is coupled with growing student debt. According to the IPS report, the average student debt at Ohio State rose 46% to over $26,000 between 2006 and 2011; that was a rate that was faster than the national average. A big reason for that rising student debt is that since 2006, tuition at Ohio State has risen from $8,406 to $10,010 for Ohio residents and from $20,301 to $25,726 for non-residents (room and board was another $10,000 per year on top of that); that is an increase of 19% for in-state students and 27% for out-of-state students.