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President Gee talks parking, Pryor and pajamas

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

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Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee visited The Lantern newsroom Thursday evening to discuss a number of issues directly affecting the OSU community.

These ranged from the issue of privatizing the parking on campus to the quarter-to-semester transition. Gee spoke passionately about the value of an OSU degree and the value of a university education, among other ideas.

“I get so damn mad every time I see … this young woman who comes on (the television), she says, ‘I’m in my pajamas and I’m getting a college degree!,’ and I say, “You are getting something young lady, you’re not getting a college degree in your damn pajamas!'”

Geothermal project has ‘a lot of problems’

“Progress is calculated by the number of roads that are closed and the number of cranes we have,” Gee said. “We are one of the most progressive institutions in the country.”

Construction related to the geothermal well field that started mid-November 2010 is not on time and not on target, according to Gee.

“Our geothermal, our big green project, has run into some problems in terms of drilling. We are going to have to continue drilling, which is going to take us longer than we want,” Gee said.

The geothermal well field, consisting of 261 vertical wells, is a part of the $171.6 million South Campus High Rise Renovation and Addition Project.

The wells that were to be drilled at a depth of 550 to 600 feet under the South Oval have run into geological issues.

“We ran into a lot of problems in terms of getting the right holes at the right depth and to get the right geothermal power,” Gee said.

Gee said the contractor OSU hired originally did not have the right equipment and could not complete the job. Gee also said the university had to go back and hire a new contractor, find the right drilling mechanisms and then find the right people.

With a new contractor and very high standards, Gee said they feel very confident and are

now drilling.

“We are drilling as fast as we can and we’re going to move this up as fast as we can,” Gee said. “Get them to bring more drill rigs in.”

Gee said he thinks that hiring a new contractor will bring additional, unbudgeted costs.

“I suspect if you go into a second contract, it’s going to cost more,” Gee said.

Gee is ‘happy for Terrelle’

“After all said and done, he is and will always be a Buckeye,” Gee said.

Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor departed the university on June 7 to pursue an NFL career. Pryor was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the supplemental draft.

“I was happy for Terrelle,” Gee said.

Pryor, who was at the root of many of the issues that led to former head coach Jim Tressel’s forced resignation, would have been suspended for five games at OSU if he had returned for his senior season.

“He had some serious issues that he had to deal with here, we had some issues we had to deal with him,” Gee said of Pryor.

Per NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision, Pryor was suspended for the first five games of this year’s NFL season.

“As with any student at this university, two things, one is I wish him well,” Gee said. “Second of all, I sent him a note, a couple times now telling him that I expect him to come back and get his degree, and that seems in the end to be the best advice I can give him.”

The NCAA also suspended senior running back Dan Herron, senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, senior offensive lineman Mike Adams and senior defensive end Solomon Thomas for the first five games of the season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor.

OSU’s business ‘not running parking lots’

As plans to privatize parking get under way, Gee spoke about the search to find a vendor who is able to oversee parking at OSU.

While this is not a done deal, Gee said, OSU is in the process of finding a vendor.

“If we are going to do it, we will do it the right way,” Gee said, referencing problems with the privatization of parking in cities such as Chicago and Indianapolis.

Gee said the university’s goal is to focus on education.

“Our business is not running parking lots,” Gee said. “We have always been an institution of taking care of people.”

The money received from leasing parking at OSU would be invested in education and learning, Gee said.

Gee described the privatization as a partnership, not a sale. Gee said he was not interested in running a golf course, an airport or parking lots, and will push to improve education at OSU, with one exception.

“I will not sell the stadium,” Gee joked.

Semester switch is ‘like planning the Normandy invasion’

Before a question was even asked, Gee addressed the quarter-to-semester switch at OSU.

“It’s a major change,” Gee said. “This is like planning the Normandy invasion.”

Gee said that many of the things that need to be done to complete the quarter-to-semester switch are in place.

“This is the last year that we’ll be on quarters and I’ve been through the plans rather aggressively just so I feel comfortable,” Gee said. “Many of the things that are moving us toward semester are already in place.”

Gee said OSU took three years to complete the switch because other universities “ran into some very serious problems” when trying to make the switch on a short timetable.

Gee also said the semester switch allows students to compete for jobs and receive a more in-depth education.

Overall, Gee said he thinks the university is ready for the change.

“I feel rather confident that we are in good shape,” Gee said.

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