Miami’s president buys house outside Oxford, says required on-campus home still primary residence

The leader of Miami University, who has traditionally resided solely in a school-provided home on the Oxford campus, has bought a house outside of Oxford, according to documents obtained by the Journal-News.

Miami President Gregory Crawford, who since his hiring by the school in 2016 has lived according to stipulations in his employment contract at the historic Lewis Place presidential home across High Street from the campus, purchased another house last year.

The Lewis Place house became Miami’s official presidential home in 1903 and is on the Oxford Historical Register.

A long series of Miami presidents have lived in the historic home and in modern times residency in the Lewis Place house has been a requirement noted in presidential employment contracts, including Crawford’s labor agreement.

And the home is often used by resident presidents for school-related social events.

But in July 2021, Crawford and his wife, Renate, signed a mortgage for a $549,000 home on more than two dozen acres outside of Oxford, according to documents obtained through a Journal-News records request.

When asked recently about the new house purchase, Crawford said while he now has two houses, his primary residence is still the Lewis Place and the new house is a “retirement” home.

He said the house purchase was a private transaction and the publicly funded Miami University provided no financial assistance.

Crawford, an Ohio native, is the 22nd president of the school and said his roots in the state was a part of his motivation to buy the off-campus house, which is less than a 10-minute drive to Miami.

“I was born and raised in Ohio, and so much of the appeal in becoming president of Miami University six years ago was to return, not just to lead Miami but for our eventual retirement as well,” he told the Journal-News.

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“When the perfect property in the Oxford area became available, we decided to make a purchase. The university did not fund this purchase (and) I continue to meet all terms of my contract and my primary residence remains Lewis Place.”

“We are fully committed to Miami University and the Oxford community,” said Crawford, who was raised in Elyria, Ohio and earned undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees from Kent State University.

Crawford, who is 57 years old, earns an annual salary of $520,047, according to his extended employment contract signed in July 2019 and running through June 30, 2026.

Miami University Spokeswoman Jessica Rivinius said “this home purchase was a private purchase made by private citizens.”

“Though it was not funded by the university, the board of trustees is aware. President Crawford continues to meet all terms of his contract, including maintaining a primary residence at Lewis Place,” she said.

Since taking over the top job at Miami, which is Butler County’s largest employer and has regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, Crawford has been one of the more publicly visible presidents in Miami’s long history.

An avid bicyclist, Crawford is often seen pedaling around Miami’s main Oxford campus including traveling to and from administrative business meetings.

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Miami senior Ella Koskinen said both Crawford and his wife “are so involved on this campus and I trust they will still be.”

Classmate Ally Astles said the Crawfords owning an additional house off campus won’t matter to her or other students.

“They do such an awesome job of being involved on campus and I don’t think their (new house) being a few miles away will change them getting to know the students so it doesn’t matter to me,” said Astles.

Staff Writer Denise Callahan contributed to this story.

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