Ohio State announced Tuesday President E. Gordon Gee is retiring from his post effective July 1.
“I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities,” Gee said in a university press release. “During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself.”
In a message to OSU faculty, he said his relationship with the university will continue.
In the release, Chairman of the OSU Board of Trustees Robert Schottenstein said Gee told him of his plans Tuesday morning.
“This man has been an inspiration to many people, including me, and we all are forever grateful for his friendship.
His thoughtful and unique leadership style has taken the University to new levels,” Schottenstein said. “His engagement with the entire Ohio State community is truly remarkable. Clearly he leaves a rich and lasting legacy and will be missed.”
Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Alutto will serve as interim president.
Gee has come under controversy after comments at a Dec. 5 OSU Athletic Council meeting recently became public.
Gee made jokes about Notre Dame, and said “those damn Catholics” of Notre Dame can’t be trusted and that’s why the university was never invited into the Big Ten.
He was also recorded saying Notre Dame’s priests are “holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week,” according to multiple reports.
Gee was expected to speak at St. Francis DeSales, a Catholic high school in Central Ohio, for its graduation, however, Gee canceled before the graduation date.
He also made statements about the academic integrity of the SEC conference. Gee said as a Big Ten president, it’s his job is to make sure the conference is comprised of schools that value academics, which is why “you won’t see us adding Louisville,” a Big East school, or the University of Kentucky, an SEC school.
Gee’s comments recently became public, and have been a source of controversy for the president, with some calling for his termination or resignation on social media.
Gee is the third highest paid university president, earning slightly less than $1.9 million in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Gee has been president at OSU since October 2007, but previously served as university president from 1990-1997.
According to the OSU release, Gee has been an “extraordinary leader of Ohio State.” Under his term as president, OSU has become more selective for applicants and chaired a national commission on higher education and two state commissions at the request of Gov. John Kasich.
Under Gee’s reign, the university agreed to lease its parking assets to a private investment company, QIC Global Infrastructure, for $483 million as part of a 50-year agreement. OSU also opened the Ohio Union and initiated the $170.4 million South Campus Renovation Project which includes the geothermal well project on the South Oval.
A March 11 letter from Schottenstein to Gee on the subject of Gee’s offensive comments was obtained by The
Lantern, where it was written that the inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
“On occasion your words that may be intended to bring a bit of levity to some significant issues have, in fact, had the opposite effect,” the letter said. “There have been occasions on which your comments were insensitive and inappropriate and have offended others.”
Future mishaps will result in punitive action, including dismissal, the letter said.
Gee, who has a history of making questionable remarks, apologized in an email statement to OSU faculty, students and staff May 31 and said there was “no excuse” for his comments.