COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine hopes his first two appointments to the Wright State University Board of Trustees are just what the beleaguered school needs.
DeWine on Wednesday appointed Andrew J. Platt of Xenia and Martin J. Grunder of Bellbrook to fill a pair of openings on the heels of an inspector general report that revealed possible wrongdoings regarding payments to a consultant and land acquisitions made by Double Bowler, a WSU-established non-profit.
“I kind of sought them out,” DeWine said by phone Wednesday night. “Talked to a lot of people. Tried to get ideas of who should be on the board. It’s an unusual situation because we have two appointments to make. It’s also unusual because Wright State is going through a difficult time.”
Grunder is a University of Dayton graduate and president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co., while Platt is a 2009 graduate of WSU and managing director of Northwestern Mutual in Beavercreek.
“They’re going to take a fresh look at Wright State,” DeWine said. “They both really understand how important Wright State is to the Miami Valley. We’ve got to get this right.”
DeWine stressed the importance of giving WSU “kind of a new start” beginning with the appointments.
“In the discussions I had with both of them, I told them my perspective which is that Wright State really has two separate challenges,” he said. “One is the challenge that is unique to Wright State in all the things we’ve read in the media that’s gone on the last few years.”
The other challenge, DeWine said, is one “most” public and private college and universities face — future enrollment.
“We have a declining graduation number, number of kids graduating from high school, we have a declining birth rate,” he said. “If you look at projections 18 years from now, the situation doesn’t get any better. It gets worse.”
DeWine said all the schools must to figure out their niche and where they can have a competitive advantage. He said that would be paramount even if WSU didn’t have the inspector general investigation.
“We understand, yeah there’s some mismanagement problems, but even if those have not occurred, every state university has got to be re-evaluating,” DeWine said.
While DeWine was getting close to finalizing the appointments, he said the release of the aforementioned report sped up the process.
“We’ve been looking and talking and interviewing people,” DeWine said. “This process did not start two days ago. But I felt once this report came out, we were getting close to making the announcement, just felt let’s go ahead and make these announcements now.”
Platt replaces Anuj Goyal — whose term expired — while Grunder will serve the remainder of the vacant term of former Trustee C.D. Moore. Grunder’s term ends June 30, 2020, while Platt’s term ends June 30, 2028.