CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s new president Gordon Gee says he underwent an unexpected “conversion” since returning to Morgantown to serve as interim president.

“I came back, frankly, without any intention of doing anything other than being a good interim president,” Gee said. “And quickly it became very apparent to me that this is a place that has such enormous opportunity and the people are so warm and welcoming.”

Gee made his comment one day after WVU’s Board of Governors abandoned its national search to replace former president Jim Clements and, instead, approved the permanent hiring of Gee. Members of the Higher Education Policy Commission still have to sign off on the hire.

On Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” the 70-year-old Gee said he would like to complete his original six-month temporary term and then move into the permanent position July 1.

He returned to WVU after serving as president at the University of Colorado, Brown University, Vanderbilt and the Ohio State University. He said West Virginia, where he was previously president from 1981-1985, remains unique.

“This institution has a remarkable opportunity, unlike almost any other place in this country, to truly serve the people in the state, to make a difference, to engage in all 55 counties, to do things that few institutions can because of the kind of power and relationship the institution has to the state and the size of the state as well,” Gee said.

He said WVU plays a¬†huge role in West Virginia’s economy. “In the end a university has to, in this modern era, be the most, if not one of the most, significant creators of jobs in the state,” he said.

Gee was at the State Capitol on Tuesday for the closing week of the 2014 regular legislative session. He has inspired “Bow Tie Tuesday” this session among lawmakers.

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  • ratman

    Be careful what you wish for. Oliver Luck has done a tremendous job making our athletic programs finacialley sound. YOu can bash all you want but without him we would be in a terrible conferance with littlle revenue. The alchahol sales make good sense. I have attended mountaineer games for years and delt with drunk people every time. Only now WVU is getting money for it. Texas is about to follow our lead on alchahol sale because it is a business. If we cant make money we will be absolutely nothing.Be careful what you wish for because we are headed towards a finacially sound athletic program. I as a fan do not mind paying a little more to support WVU. I dont expect them to be able to operate in the red. Please quit crying and either support or dont but dont make the rest of us have to listen to you.

  • jay zoom

    Hopefully his first business on the agenda is to get rid of Oliver Luck. Second donate me one of his bow ties. Hope he has great success at WVU.

  • Greg

    How about instead of a stripe the stadium promotion this football season we have a "Bow Tie Saturday" to celebrate E Gordon's return?

  • Mike

    Just a hunch, but I don't think Luck will run over Gee, and do whatever he wants, as he did with Clements. While Gee is a great fundraiser and knows the importance of revenue, he puts people and fans first. Something Luck never does.

  • Corn King


    Orville Redenbacher LIVES!!!!!


    (funded by Gordon Gee, of course!)

  • David Kennedy

    Great Hotline Interview today, Hoppy...

    I'm wearing a bow tie, too...this might have the makin's of a new state holiday... Gee Day... LOL

    A working holiday to promote quality education in the Mountain State.