Former Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee was formally approved as the permanent president of West Virginia University Monday.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission approved his appointment at a special meeting, the final approval needed to solidify his role, according to a WVU release.
The Board of Governors unanimously voted to name Gee president during an emergency meeting March 3 after the Presidential Search Committee endorsed Gee for the position in an emergency session of its own Feb. 28.
Gee began as WVU’s president in January and was only set to remain in that position until a permanent president was selected. He is on an unpaid leave from OSU, where he assumed the role of president emeritus after retiring.
Chair of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Bruce Berry said he is excited for Gee to be the president.
“President Gee is a vibrant leader with unmatched credentials whose homecoming has been warmly welcomed at West Virginia University,” Berry said in a released statement. “We look forward to working closely with President Gee and the entire campus as we strive to increase opportunities for our students and expand the positive impact of higher education on West Virginia’s communities.”
Gee said Monday he, too, is looking forward to being the permanent WVU president.
“I am deeply honored and very energized to return to West Virginia University as the 24th president,” Gee said in a released statement. “As most people know, this is the university and the state that gave me my first opportunity to lead a major university – and I am as passionate today as I was then to make a difference in the lives of our citizens.
“I thank the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for its support today, and look forward to working with the Commission to advance the mission of our great university in the years ahead.”
OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email Feb. 28 questions about whether Gee would remain on unpaid leave at OSU if he was approved as WVU’s permanent president “will be answered over the next few weeks.”
Lewis said in an email March 3 those questions are “still pending,” and as of Monday evening, Lewis was not immediately able to say if they have been answered yet.
Gee is set to have a two-year contract at WVU that will go into effect July 1 and the details of which are still being finalized, according to the release.
As interim president, his annual salary at WVU was $450,000.
Gee earned slightly less than $1.9 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year at OSU. Gee’s base salary as president emeritus and a tenured professor in the OSU Moritz College of Law, his new position at OSU post-retirement, was set to be $410,000, to be paid each year from 2013 through June 2018.
Gee began his career of leading higher education institutions at WVU in 1981. He was the dean of WVU’s law school prior to his four-year stint as president.
West Virginia University is located in Morgantown, W.Va., and had about 29,500 students enrolled during Fall Semester 2013.
Gee later was president at Brown University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Colorado, and he held the office twice at OSU.
Gee was OSU’s president from 1990-97 and from 2007 to July 1, when he retired.
Gee announced his decision to retire from OSU 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 said in December he did not intend to pursue WVU’s permanent presidency.
“The role that I’m playing precludes me from even thinking about it,” Gee said in an interview with The Lantern. “My interest is of being of service and being helpful.”
Gee told The Lantern in October he was not planning on pursuing another university presidency.
“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.