Lynch said, "It's a nice icebreaker. The freshmen show up on campus and President Gee hands them a cookie. They love it. The students love it."
The university also picks up the tab for thousands of dollars for flowers Gee sends to politicians and staff members, annual airline club memberships, and concert, basketball and football tickets to be used at Gee's discretion. He's also provided with a financial planning and tax preparation stipend, a car, and housing at the president's fully-staffed residence.
Records showed the house was remodeled for $1.3 million and stocked with $673,000 in artwork, Persian rugs, European antiques and a $532 shower curtain.
University policy says the president "is expected to stay in accommodations similar to those used by executives of businesses and not-for-profit institutions; however, luxury hotels should be avoided."
The investigation found Gee often stays at modest hotels such as Courtyard and Holiday Inn Express when traveling inside Ohio, but uses more upscale accommodations exceeding $400 a night when traveling out-of-state. Those have included Le Meridien Bristol in Warsaw, The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, Loews Hotel Vogue in Montreal, Hotel George and the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C., and the Warwick in New York.
Gee has built a strong national reputation in higher education, but has been previously criticized for lavish spending.
When he was president at Brown University, the university spent $3 million renovating a home for Gee, including $400,000 for a conservatory built in Great Britain and shipped to Providence. At Vanderbilt University, where he served as chancellor, he oversaw $6 million in renovations and ran a $700,000 annual tab for parties, the Wall Street Journal found.
Gee's current stint as president of Ohio State has included a much-publicized football memorabilia scandal that led to the resignation of head football coach Jim Tressel.
According to the Daily News, Gee's travel and entertainment spending appears to outpace presidents at similarly situated universities, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.
Between 2007 and 2011, UT-Austin President Bill Powers spent $310,560 on travel and entertainment compared to Gee's $1.1 million, records showed. University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman's travel and entertainment expenses from 2007 through 2010 totaled $410,235. Maintaining her university-owned house ran an additional $100,000 a year.