The timing of WVU’s search for a new president was serendipitous; just as the University was beginning its nationwide hunt for Jim Clements’ replacement, E. Gordon Gee became available… somewhat.

Gee had left the Ohio State presidency after a controversy over his graceless joke about Catholics.  He was still teaching at the OSU law school and was about to spend the winter as a visiting scholar at Harvard.

The prospect of serving as interim president at WVU intrigued Gee, as well as University leaders.  It would be a homecoming of sorts for Gee, who began his career as a university president in Morgantown in 1981 when he was just 36 years old.

Gee’s return to campus was an immediate hit.  His infectious gregariousness and work ethic showed he was not just mailing it in.  Meanwhile, the presidential search committee was coming to realize that the most uniquely qualified person for the permanent job was already at Stewart Hall.

And so last Friday, the search committee recommended Gee for the position (16 yes votes, two no votes and two not present) .  The Board of Governors approved the hiring of Gee this morning 16-0-1.

Gee is in a unique position to be the leader of the state’s flagship university.  He has a lifetime of experience with stints as president at Ohio State (twice), Colorado, Brown and Vanderbilt.  It’s hard to imagine a situation arising that Gee has not already dealt with elsewhere two or three times.

He is a proven prolific fundraiser, an increasingly important role here as the state budget tightens.  Funding for higher education in West Virginia was cut 7.5 percent this year and will likely be cut another 3.75 percent next fiscal year. He raised $1.6 billion at OSU.

But perhaps most importantly, Gee is independent.  He doesn’t need the job and he’s not going to use the position as a stepping stone to a more prestigious institution; he’s already been there.

He brings to Stewart Hall a freedom that empowers him to make difficult decisions for the University without being overly concerned about the reaction from some donors who consider meddling in the school’s day-to-day activities a hobby.

As I have written before, along the way Gee may commit a faux pas or two.  One of his shortcomings is that his desire to entertain can tempt him to cross the line. It’s worth noting, however, that 99 percent of Gee’s humor is self-deprecating.

As search committee and BOG Chairman Jim Dailey said, “He is truly a perfect fit for this institution.”

E. Gordon Gee, welcome home.

 

 

 

bubble graphic

58

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Penny in Morgantown

    How many of us have looked back on actions we've taken early in our careers and wished we could return to them with the wisdom of time? E.G.G. brings a lifetime of experience to his old job. 30 years ago I observed a man taking his job--but not himself--very seriously. I think that fits WVU and West Virginia to a tee.

  • Frank/Moundsville

    A clown in charge of the circus............

  • Bob Mayhew

    Can we just get over the "damned catholics" not to be taken seriously sound bite and celebrate the good fortune of welcoming a true Mountaineer home to lead our flagship? I certainly can.
    Welcome back home Dr. Gee. Great things are happening at WVU.

  • DP

    A WONDERFUL MAN for the job!!! Of course the regular "Negative Nellies" posters disagree, but what else is new??? As I've said numerous times, what sad/pathetic lives these idiots must live!!!!!

  • Mark

    Excellent move.

  • GregG

    Considering the hole that WVU has dug, Mr. Gee has a lot of work to do in order to turn things around. As far as him cracking a joke from time to time, I have no problem with that. People are to thin skinned anymore. If the "Holier than thou" Catholics were upset by Mr. Gee's comments, they sure wouldn't want to hear what I have to say about Notre Dame.

    • GoEers

      What hole has WVU dug? Could you further explain?

      • GregG

        I'm referring to athletics side. Not really in the mood for an argument today, so I'll just say that I'm not pleased with anything that has happened since Oliver Luck arrived.

        • GoEers

          Certainly not trying to argue. Were you not pleased when Oliver Luck worked the phones and sold the Big 12 on adding WVU? Wouldn't you consider $20 mil just in tv revenues to be larger than the $2 mil that the AAC (former big east football schools plus additions) are receiving?

          • Shadow

            Do you mean to imply that WVU is in the black? I remember it being $20 million in the red.

        • Aaron

          It would seem your feelings are of a personal note based on feeling regarding Luck and not the levelheaded decisions that have been made since his arrival.

          Other than the head coach in waiting fiasco, he's done an excellent job in all aspects of his job.

          Although I was a little worried about who he was going to replace Tina Samara with when she left for Wisconsin but overall I think Miha Lisac who's fairly young will be fine.

          • GregG

            I'm glad you happy with Luck's handling of WVU tennis. Sorry, but I'm more concerned with what he is doing to the football program.

    • Common Tater

      And what would you have to say about Notre Dame? I don't recall any of their athletes being criminals.

      • WVManiac

        Actually go read about how many rapes on that Notre Dame covers up a year..... especially by their football players

        Do some research about Ms. Elizabeth Seeberg....

        • Common Tater

          Thanks for the reply. I did look up the young lady and it is an interesting, but tragic, story. Another sad case where it is difficult to determine the truth from the words that are said.

      • GregG

        Let's just say I do not approve of the way they have used their power to manipulate college sports. Their greed has clearly been shown time and time again.

  • Preston County

    There are several critical issues - or perhaps I should say problems.

    This is the third time in the last four presidential searches that the person who was in charge of the search selected himself for president. In the rest of the US, that is called "cronyism" - well, if they are being polite.

    Also, the Board of Governors created and issued the rules for the search, and then promptly violated them. Why then should anyone outside of this state take West Virginia University seriously?

    Finally, using the job as a "stepping stone" is the ideal situation. If someone wants to move on, they have an incredible motivation to do a good job. Gee will be what is called in the military - ROAD "retired on active duty." That is the worst possible situation for an employer.

    This hiring will simply reinforce the stereotype that West Virginia University is simply a community college run by a bunch of hicks who only hire their cousins. That was fine when Byrd controlled federal spending. However, he is gone, and since WVU has had to compete for federal funding, the amount of money WVU has received has not risen nearly as fast as it has for other institutions. The situation will be even worse when Rockefeller retires.

    • Aaron

      It should be noted that the hick's cousin was recently named Best College President and was responsible for raising BILLIONS at OSU.

  • Nickali

    Comrade Hoppy,

    I log in to see how in New Soviet America you receive good news that Mother Russia once again take back from evil west the Ukraine and you speak of only old man being hired after bad jokes of Catholics. Ha!! The West crumbles faster than dreamed.

    • Uncle Unctuous

      Ha! Is funny because Russians talk funny in English.

      American policy is apparently still based on the results of W looking into Putin's soul, deeming him trustworthy, and standing by impotently as Putin sent troops into Georgia.

      No, this movie is actually older than that. For example, Ike professed support for the peoples of Eastern Europe, but that didn't stop Soviet tanks. Was the West crumbling then?

      Seriously, what is the US really able to do? Get into another land war?

      • Nickali

        So, U.S. still believe Putin have soul? Then you saying Obama dumber than Bush, no?
        And what old movie,Rocky 4? Drago destroy Rocky--- You say Mother Russia invade Ukraine because movie? Obama need put Sylvester Stallone in jail for making such movie... Now, comrade, HipHop your little cotton tail down the bunny trail.

      • Debra

        +1 on W and Georgia. The EU has the most to gain or lose in that conflict. They have to decide what should be done before we can help them.

    • Jason412

      In WV, repeating a story about something happening at WVU that's already been posted and discussed always reigns supreme to anything else happening in the state, nation, or world. That's evident by the fact that 4 of the articles on the front page of this site are about this hire.

      After all, there's nothing that impacts the average West Virginian's life more then the going's-on of WVU.

      • Uncle Unctuous

        As if WV Metro News is a national or international media organ and employs anyone equipped to add to the abundant coverage that is readily accessible from other outlets.

        • Jason412

          Only you would try to correct something like that.

          http://wvmetronews.com/2014/03/02/gee-hire-as-permanent-wvu-president-could-happen-monday/

          The small exert is a press release, the rest is a news article.
          "Now, the bow-tied Gee said he is interested in staying." Clearly not a line from a press release.


          So my mistake, 3 articles and an opinion piece.

          Maybe you should look up the definitions.

          • Aaron

            What would you rather Metro News report on?

        • Jason412

          I wasn't saying it should of been the Ukraine story specifically, nor that it should be a national story. Just that its a bit much to have 4 articles on the same exact story, especially since this has been a sure thing since last week.

          • Aaron

            I don't think I see any news "articles." I see what appear to be numerous comments rehashing a topic that was discussed online augmented by a written opinion piece but very few news articles.

            The 4 news releases that refer to Dr. Gee are from 3 different radio programs and one opinion piece. If you're looking for newspaper articles that cover the entire state, good luck. Most are local and as such, you see very little variety and what you do, is slow in posting.

  • WV Common Tater

    I had a Grand-Uncle who was a Priest and an Aunt who was a Nun, I have been a Notre Dame Fan since I heard of Knute Rockne, and I can not see why Gee's joke about Notre Dame Sports was degrading. For anyone not to understand it meaning indicated a skin thinner than a micron and an absence of humor. I think they should look at themselves rather than Gee's integrity. He has certainly proved that he is a Winner and that is exactly who WVU needs after the past disasters.

    • GoEers

      What were the past disasters?

      • WV Common Tate

        Several of the previous WVU Presidents, ie the Manchin affair, the RR fiasco, the radio rights contract.

        • GoEers

          Was Jim Clements involved in any of those "disasters" that you mention above? I was recently on WVU's campus and noticed several capital projects being undertaken at both campuses. Donations to the WVU foundation and athletic dept. are at an all time high. WVU's Executive MBA Program is ranked 23rd in the country. Would you considers these points to be accomplishments?

    • Alter Boy

      I'm sure your Auntie smacked your hands aplenty with a wooden ruler and I dare not ask what your Grand-Uncle did....

      Good thing you have skin thicker than a micron.

      • WV Common Tater

        I think I touched the right place. Look inward toward your dark side. Most of us see a good world and good people.

  • Hop'sHip

    Gee, Hoppy. Tell us something we didn't already know. Like was does the E in his name stand for? Maybe we should have a contest to predict the date of his next faux pas. I suspect that E Gordon at 70 is in better shape physically and mentally than a lot of us, including me and Jim N - especially me and Jim N.

    • Hop'sHip

      Elwood. Thanks Wiki. Also learned that EGG has held more university presidencies than other American. That surely makes him a prime candidate for the EGGhead Hall of Fame.

    • Aaron

      Elwood

      • Hop'sHip

        Thanks Aaron. I failed to refresh before I resorted to Wiki.

        • Nickali

          yep, you've "failed

  • Medman

    It is so interesting to see the nay sayers and folks who can find something negative to say about every single issue. It must be a terrible life to have to live inside their skins every day.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    Dean Wormer, err Gordon Gee is 69. Honestly how much time do you think he's gonna last? This is like applying super glue to hold a broken car frame together. It wont last.

    Look I like the guy, especially after hearing his satirical comments on Notre Dame, but he's OLD!

    Plus the fact that you Skippy are so excited about this hire is reason alone to be concerned.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N Charleston
    L8

    • CaptainQ

      Careful Jim N, you could end up on Double Secret Probation!

      • Joe

        Every fall, the trees are full of toilet paper....and every spring the toilets explode.

        You're talking about MetroNews, sir?

        Of course, I'm talking about MetroNews, you twit! :)

    • Jim N Charleston

      Correction: He is 70!

      • Aaron

        Were he a US Senator, he'd have 20 more years. I say he's got at least 5 GREAT years left.

  • Wowbagger

    So Gee didn't like retirement. Not an unusual occurrence.

    At least he isn't using WVU for a stepping stone like the last guy and a few years ago many of the Faculty.

    I don't know Gee and only took one pretty focused engineering class while he was President, but he was pretty popular.

    • marco

      Hilary is 68-69. How much time does she have left??

      • CaptainQ

        Hilliary's got time enough to win the Democratic nomination in 2016 and probably, the election that November.

        The nomination and the White House are hers to lose, at the moment. Things may change, but as of right now, Hilliary's got to be the favorite, her age won't affect that status.

        • Nickali

          number in age me little in West to electorate,,, only because high school graduates no longer count past 50 without help from electronic gadget.

        • Aaron

          It was her's to lose in 2008.

          She was wildly successful.

        • Jason412

          Reagan was 73 when he won in '84. He wasn't to old to jam the War on Drugs down America's throat while financing cocaine traffickers.

          • Jason412

            Yeah, that's why I didn't say Reagan started it. Reagan, and Nancy, are the ones who jammed it down our throats and made it into what we see today.

            It certainly wasn't Pat Nixon touring the country with catchy slogans about how to turn down drugs.

          • Alum

            Actually the war on drugs was Nixon's baby.

  • JAC

    I love it!!!

  • Status Quo

    He has also questioned the academic integrity of schools in the Southeastern Conference---

    So, he came to WVU?

    • Aaron

      I though the comments were funny even if Rick Pitino didn't.