Miami University has set the record straight on the issue of the speaker fee for Condoleezza Rice’s Thursday address.
John Skillings, interim provost, contacted The Miami Student to reveal the sum and clear up any misgivings about what qualifies as public record. Skillings said both he and President Hodge were surprised to read that the sum had not been revealed by the business school.
“The information about Condoleeza Rice’s fee is a public record,” Skillings said. “It’s $150,000 that she is being paid for her visit.”
According to Skillings, the non-disclosure clause referenced earlier in the week does not exist in the final version of the contract.
“Here’s what I believe happened: that it was in the original document but as a public institution we had to strike that out because we have to abide by the state laws and we are in an open records situation,” Skillings said. “That was stricken out of the final document that was signed. Frankly I don’t know what document Alan Oak had in front of him, and again I’m not here to criticize him, but the document that we have over here does not have a non-disclosure clause.”
Alan Oak, associate dean for external relations of the Farmer School of Business, who originally stated the fee could not be revealed due to the non-disclosure clause, said he was in error.
“I misspoke,” Oak said. “I had not reviewed the contract specifically. The contract that was provided to us did have the confidentiality initially but it was crossed out. It was an unintentional error on my part.”
Roger Jenkins, dean of the FSB, said no confusion was intended and the FSB fully supports Oak.
“Alan is an extraordinarily competent professional, he has impeccable integrity and he misspoke,” Jenkins said. “He made an error. We all do and he has apologized. I certainly wouldn’t make more of that then what it was. I don’t defend his error, and regret that that occurred, as he does, but we all make mistakes and the university is still very fortunate to have him.”
According to Jenkins, institutional discussions will be occurring to ensure similar issues do not occur in the future.
“What happened this time has already become the foundation, the catalyst, for making sure that it never happens again,” Jenkins said. “If the university and administration feels like it is safer to just to say up front that ‘a speaker is coming in and here is the fee,’ I have no problem with that at all.”
Skillings reiterated earlier comments, stating the contract has been paid entirely through a donation specifically provided to Miami for fees to bring world leaders to campus.
“All of those funds are being provided by Jack and Marie Anderson’s lecture fund,” Skillings said. “Those funds can only be used for this purpose. The fee that we are paying is not an unusual fee. It is certainly a large fee, but it is not unusual for the type of speaker that the Anderson fund provides for.”
John Krafft, the Miami University Dolibois European Campus (MUDEC) professor who earlier spoke out against the secrecy around the fee, responded to the newly revealed information.
“That’s obscene,” Krafft said. “This is not about Condoleezza Rice. This is about our values. I’d feel the same way about any speaker, of any ideological stance, with any message.”
Krafft also responded to some of the feedback he has read since Tuesday’s story.
“One clown commented: ‘how much do you think Jesus Christ got paid for his sermon on the mount?’ That’s exactly my point,” Krafft said. “He didn’t get paid anything. Did that commenter imply that the sermon on the mount would have been more valuable if Jesus got paid $150,000 for it?”
Ultimately, Krafft is glad that the issue has been resolved.
“Like I said before, I had hope that this would be cleared up by the university,” Krafft said. “As much as I think we ought to be ashamed for paying Rice, or anybody, that type of money, I am pleased with the university for revealing the fee.” As the final word on the discussion of “public vs. private” in regards to the contract, Skillings said that there really is no debate.
“As a public institution our dealings are public records and this would be included in the Public Records Act of the state of Ohio,” Skillings said. “There’s no question about that one.”