Ohio State President Emeritus E. Gordon Gee was announced as the interim president of West Virginia University Friday.
His term is set to begin in early January, and he is set to remain in that position until a permanent president is selected. During this time, he will take an unpaid leave of absence from Ohio State, said OSU assistant vice president of media and public relations Gayle Saunders.
“The leave of absence is treated the same as for other faculty member. He maintains his Ohio State professional titles, as is the practice for faculty taking leaves of absence,” Saunders said in an emailed statement.
West Virginia University’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the selection of Gee Thursday. That selection was then approved Friday by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
Gee is expected to continue his work with Gov. John Kasich’s Quality and Value Initiative, a study he is leading to seek ways to improve Ohio’s higher education institutions, according to a WVU and OSU press release.
His annual salary at WVU is set to be $450,000, according to the press release.
Gee is set to temporarily replace former WVU President James Clements, who announced in November he was accepting a position as the president of Clemson University.
Gee began his career in leadership roles at higher education institutions at WVU in 1981. He was the dean of WVU’s law school before his four-year stint as that university’s president.
He was also president at Brown University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Colorado and at OSU, twice.
“West Virginia University is where my journey as a university president began more than three decades ago, so it has always had a special meaning for me,” Gee said in a released statement. “When I was 36, this great land-grant institution gave me an extraordinary opportunity to serve as its president.”
Gee served as OSU president from 1990-97 and again from 2007 to this year. He retired from the OSU presidency July 1. Former Provost and Executive Vice President Joseph Alutto assumed the interim presidency that day.
Previously, Gee said he was not planning to permanently leave Columbus or OSU, and in October, he said he wasn’t looking to pursue a presidency anywhere else.
“This is my home, and look, I’ve done this longer than any person in this country, and I’ve had the greatest opportunities at the greatest institution one could possibly imagine. But I’m really committed to making a difference by doing what I’m doing now, by actually being engaged in this university family but also engaged in and talking about the issues of higher education,” Gee said in an Oct. 21 interview with The Lantern.
He was, however, set to spend next semester teaching at Harvard University’s law school.
Gee announced his decision to retire days after controversial comments he made at a Dec. 5, 2012, OSU Athletic Council meeting came under public scrutiny. Remarks about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference, in particular, brought national attention.
Gee earned slightly less than $1.9 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
His base salary as president emeritus and a tenured professor in the OSU Moritz College of Law, the positions he assumed post-retirement at OSU, was set to be $410,000, to be paid each year from 2013 through June 2018.