Over the wishes of its faculty, Ohio State University said it would seek bids this month from private investors interested in taking over the institution's vast parking operation. Under the proposal, the university would lease its 36,000 parking spaces to a private concessionaire for 30 to 50 years in exchange for a minimum lump-sum payment of $375-million.
If Ohio State's Board of Trustees accepts a bid, campus parking consultants have said, it would be the biggest privatized parking operation at an academic institution.
A survey that members of the faculty council e-mailed to some 2,800 faculty members from March 27 to April 2 found that 84 percent responded negatively to the question, "Do you support privatization of OSU's parking operations?" Eighty-six respondents said yes, 1,047 said no, and 119 said they didn't know enough to decide. The survey included links to information from Ohio State's faculty council, the university administration, and the student newspaper. It was unclear if opponents of the plan felt the university should hold out for more money or simply rejected any effort to privatize parking, presumably because their fees would go up. ...
The money would be placed in an endowment that would pay for such things as new faculty positions, student scholarships, support for arts and humanities facilities, and operating the university's transit system.