Cody Cousino / Photo editor
The last time Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee sat down with The Lantern editorial staff, he was in the middle of what he now refers to as his “yearlong colonoscopy” – an NCAA investigation surrounding OSU football.
Gee told The Lantern editorial board Monday night he feels good about where the university stands.
“The world is pretty right-side up for the university right now,” Gee said.
Tressel, Urban and Gee’s “colonoscopy”
“Nothing that I have done over the past year has caused me more reflection,” Gee said about the actions leading up to the NCAA investigation and the investigation itself.
Gee was open about Jim Tressel’s failure to come forward and said he was pleased about Tressel’s new job with the University of Akron.
Gee called new coach Urban Meyer the “finest in the country,” “the greatest affirmation of the quality of this institution” and “the best recruiter in America.”
Despite Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema criticizing Meyer’s recruiting methods, Gee stands behind him.
“We hired the best coach and we went out and got the best kids so get a life,” Gee said of Bielema’s criticisms.
Semester conversion a “very intense process”
Four months away from what Gee called “one of the most transformative things we do,” Gee is confident about the progress of the semester conversion.
All of the processes are in place and “we could do it today,” Gee said.
The $12.6 million to be spent on the transition is worth it, Gee said, and will allow OSU to catch up with the rest of the nation and students.
“We have been totally out of sync with every major university in this country … We’re a 1980s university in 21st century clothing,” Gee said.
Students will also gain a competitive edge on the semester system, Gee said.
“Our students will now be competitive in the job market … and in grad school,” Gee said.
New Huntington partnership
“That was a very important moment for us,” Gee said.
Gee said OSU will receive $25 million up front for student scholarships and support for new classrooms and academic activities. Another $100 million will go toward renovations east of campus, something Gee said he feels very strong about.
One of the reasons the university made the agreement, Gee said, was because of Huntington’s Ohio roots.
“Huntington is the last hometown full-service bank that exists in Columbus,” he said. “This is a Columbus, Ohio, bank.”
Though Huntington has a history with the university, Gee said the bank’s previous involvement had nothing to do with their selection.
“In the end, the $25 million in cash and the $100 million was far and away the best proposal that we had,” he said. “Even though (Huntington was) strong partners with us and had been for years, they also made the most sense.”
When asked how the new agreement might affect students who bank with other institutions, he compared the new partnership with Huntington to the university’s partnership with Coca-Cola.
“Those who drink Coke do and those who drink Pepsi or some other thing still do that,” he said.
University ‘well on the way’ to making residence hall changes
As the university plans the transition to move all first- and second-year students to on-campus residence halls, Gee said the university is “well on the way.”
Gee said the transition is in line with the university’s goal to engage students inside and outside of the classroom.
Gee said data shows that graduation rates for OSU students who spend two years on campus increase from 80 percent to around 94 percent.
“That means that it’s a much better environment,” he said.
Gee said he considers the approximately 150 hours a week that students spend outside of the classroom to be the most important.
“The most important learning you’re going to have is from each other,” Gee said.
North Campus residence hall renovations are scheduled to be complete by 2015 or 2016, though Gee originally said that the project would be complete by 2012.
Gee said he prefers to call university housing as residence halls, never dorms.
“Dorms sound like prisons to me, you know?”