Former Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee was named the permanent president of West Virginia University Monday, pending one last approval.
The Board of Governors unanimously voted to name Gee president during an emergency meeting Monday after the Presidential Search Committee endorsed Gee for the position in an emergency session of its own Friday, according to a WVU release.
The decision now has to go through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to receive its approval, the release said.
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.
Gee said Monday he will accept the position.
“I am honored, energized and humbled to serve West Virginia University as the 24th president,” Gee said in a released statement. “When I had the opportunity to return to West Virginia and this university earlier this year I did not hesitate. And, I have found it to be the same wonderful and welcoming place I remembered. And, with great joy, I also found that our university had grown, matured and was competing on the national academic stage with some of the very best land-grant research universities in the country.”
OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email Friday 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 Monday those questions are “still pending.”
Gee is set to have a two-year contract, the “maximum under statute,” at WVU.
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.
Lewis emailed The Lantern a statement from OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto about the recommendation of Gee Friday afternoon.
“This is a great opportunity for Gordon Gee to continue the excellent work he has begun at West Virginia University … I am excited for him and know he will accomplish remarkable things,” Alutto said in the statement.
WVU Board Chairman and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee James Dailey II said Friday he supported Gee becoming the permanent president.
“Gordon Gee is absolutely, hands-down the very best person to be at the helm of West Virginia University at this important time and place in our history,” Dailey said in a released statement. “I know we recruited him to serve until a permanent leader was in place and said the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent presidency, but the search committee had a change of heart.
“It is clear Gordon Gee has not been a placeholder president by any means … Countless people have urged us from day one to keep him.”
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. 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.
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