Inspector General Still Awaiting Documents from OU

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An Aug. 3 request from a state agency for documents related to the university’s lease of a new presidential home has yet to be fulfilled, university officials said last week.

The Ohio Office of the Inspector General sent a letter to Ohio University’s Office of Legal Affairs at the beginning of August requesting further documents related to 29 Park Place, the previous home of OU President Roderick McDavis, and the current home at 31 Coventry Lane.

The letter requested that the document be provided “no later than September 4.” When asked multiple times throughout the first week of September if the request had been fulfilled, OU spokesperson Bethany Venable told WOUB that it had not. She said the university had no other comment on the matter.

The August request was the second by the Inspector General, according to OU’s general counsel, John Biancamano. The first had come in April, also related to the Park Place and Coventry Lane property.

“This office had completed its initial review,” the August letter stated, though no conclusion was included in the letter, which was signed by Rebekeh L. Wolcott, Deputy Inspector General.

But the office requested additional information this time around, including materials from Jan. 1, 2014 to the present. This included copies of all meeting agendas and minutes for the OU Foundation, the OU Board of Trustees and the OU Foundation Executive Committee.

Also requested were meeting agendas and notes for the president’s executive staff, the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Office of Real Estate Management and the OU Real Estate Planning Committee. The agendas and notes requested were to include those that referenced “the comprehensive master planning process, Park Place study, presidential housing or residence, 29 Park Place, 31 Coventry Lane, and/or John Wharton and his associated companies…,” according to the letter.

Other meeting agendas and notes were also requested, along with “policies, procedures and directives” related to OU’s donation/pledge process and the university’s real estate acquisition and lease processes.

The inspector requested a list of “all real-estate purchases and lease agreements entered into by Ohio University and the Ohio University Foundation with companies owned by John Wharton including but not limited to OU Real Estate, Inc., and Rector-Wharton Rentals.”

From Jan. 1, 2015, to the present, the state agency asked for “copies of all email, interoffice memorandums and other written correspondence” for the Division of University Advancement Vice President Bryan Benchoff, the Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Director for Development Ryan White and the Director of Athletics Jim Schaus regarding presidential housing, the two presidential properties and John Wharton’s donations and/or pledges.

Copies of appraisal records, assessments, reports, inspections and negotiation records for 31 Coventry Lane, including the furnishings that were bought along with the home. An inventory of the furnishings and “any other documentation supporting the $75,000 purchase prices” were on the list as well.

The Inspector General asked to review the investigation into environmental issues and structural repairs “that accelerated the Board of Trustees’ timeline and necessitated the relocation of President and Mrs. McDavis,” and the other properties considered for presidential housing.