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.