COLUMBUS - Several students at Ohio State University Thursday called on Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich to start a scholarship fund using the $50,000 a year he received for seven years as a presidential fellow guest lecturer.
"At a time when so many students are working hard to help their families meet the costs of a college education, Congressman Kasich's acceptance of $4,000 per visit is an insult and an outrage,'' said Gina Masarik, a recent Ohio State graduate.
Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democrat locked in a fight for re-election against Mr. Kasich, said it doesn't matter that the funds came from a private endowment rather than taxpayer subsidies.
"Those endowment funds could have gone toward helping students, or those funds could have gone toward maybe helping a professor working full time for less than $65,000 a year having to prepare classes, show up, and hold office hours, prepare tests, grade papers, and serve on committees,'' he said.
Mr. Kasich served as a rare Ohio State presidential fellow from 2001 after leaving Congress to 2009 when he entered the race for governor.
"We are glad the College Democrats made it back to campus safely after summer vacation," said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols when asked about the news conference in which students offered the scholarship idea.
Mr. Kasich was paid $50,000 a year; an aide received $20,000 a year for the same seven years.
"John was paid what Ohio State thought he was worth,'' Mr. Nichols said. "Ohio State was pleased with his services, because they hired him year after year after year.''
The offer was first extended by then-President Brit Kirwan, and the arrangement continued under successive presidents.
School spokesman Jim Lynch noted that payment for Mr. Kasich did not come from tax or tuition-supported funding but from the unrestricted Mershon Endowment Fund.
Schedules that were provided to the university by Mr. Kasich showed he was actively on campus about six to 10 days each quarter.
Mr. Strickland called the expenditure "inappropriate'' for "such little work and such meaningless work.''
"One student told me that John came into his class and spent the entire time talking about his book and apparently got $1,000 for that,'' the governor said.
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