The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

March 1, 2014

Gee endorsed for job permanently

WVU committee does about-face on search for president

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia University search committee on Friday did an about-face and endorsed interim President E. Gordon Gee for the job permanently.

The committee made the recommendation during an emergency meeting in Morgantown and now goes to the WVU Board of Governors.

It comes seven months after Gee retired from Ohio State University after his critical remarks about Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools were made public.

When President Jim Clements announced in November that he was leaving for Clemson, the WVU Board of Governors said the interim president wouldn’t be in line to take over full time.

But James W. Dailey, the Board of Governors chairman who headed the search committee, said the committee “had a change of heart.”

“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 statement.

The Board of Governors now must approve the hiring and rescind a motion about Gee not being a candidate for the permanent job. The board issued a statement saying that it would meet Monday to consider the endorsement.

The 20-member search committee had received 31 applications or nominations for the job. Instead, it passed a motion asking the board to amend the search procedure and take the necessary steps to retain the 70-year-old Gee.

Gee, who also was West Virginia’s president from 1981 to 1985, had intended to be around the Morgantown campus only until the summer.

“I am honored, energized and humbled by the committee’s recommendation today,” said Gee, who didn’t attend the search committee’s meeting. “My return to West Virginia has reminded me of the special spirit of this university and the unique role it plays in this state. I am also reminded of the warmth and friendship of the people of West Virginia which have been demonstrated over the past few months in full measure.”

After his December hiring, Gee said he didn’t like the word ‘interim’ anyway.

“I think it signifies ‘seat warmer,”’ Gee said at the time. “I’m a guy who likes to get in and get to work and make a difference as much as I can.”

Gee served two different stints at Ohio State, where he stumbled through a series of verbal missteps for which he had to issue apologies. He retired in July after he criticized Roman Catholics, Notre Dame and former Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema, who now coaches Arkansas.

In those remarks, made in December 2012 to Ohio State’s Athletic Council, Gee said Notre Dame was never invited to join the Big Ten because the school’s religious leaders are not “good partners.”  

A Mormon, Gee also jokingly referred to “those damn Catholics,” and lampooned the academic integrity of the University of Louisville and Southeastern Conference schools, singling out the University of Kentucky. He alleged that University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez considered Bielema a “thug.”

Gee also made mildly disparaging remarks about Alvarez and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. And he laughingly suggested that someone would have to “shoot” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith before Smith would allow the University of Cincinnati to join the Big Ten.  

Even when he announced his retirement, he quipped at a hastily called news conference, “I’ve only got a month to ruin the university. I’ve got to get at it.”

He also hinted back then he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Apparently, that family includes WVU.

“Countless people have urged us from Day One to keep him,” Dailey said. “He is truly a perfect fit for this institution. His knowledge of and experience in higher education circles is unmatched — as is his national and international reputation.”

A lot has changed since Gee became dean of WVU’s law school in 1979, the year before the university’s current football stadium opened.

WVU is in the midst of nearly $1 billion in construction projects on campus for its university health system and student housing. The university’s vision for the year 2020 includes strengthening academic programs and expanding student diversity.

Around the time of his first WVU presidency, Gee ignored faculty warnings to dress the role and adopted what would become his signature style: pressed suits, suspenders, horn-rimmed glasses and bow ties, seemingly a new one every day.

During his first stint in Morgantown, the incorporation of WVU Hospitals led to the construction of Ruby Memorial Hospital on campus. The WVU Research Corp. was established and the WVU Foundation was restructured. Among the facilities built during his tenure were the College of Business and Economics and the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

  • Cornhole champions being decided in Charleston

    Cornhole, the strange-sounding game made popular in backyards and at football tailgate parties, is taking on a serious side this week.
    The American Cornhole Organization will crown its world champions as about 380 competitors from 17 states vie for $10,000 in prize money in singles and doubles events.

    July 19, 2014

  • Multi-state distracted driving enforcement planned

    Law enforcement agencies in six states plan participate in a weeklong campaign targeting distracted driving.

    July 18, 2014

  • Female guard accused of having sex with juvenile inmate

    A West Virginia Division of Corrections officer has been charged with having sexual contact with a female juvenile inmate at the Lincoln Detention Center in Wheeling.

    July 18, 2014

  • Two charged in 1999 disappearance of W.Va. women

    Two men have been indicted on murder charges stemming from the 1999 disappearance of a West Virginia woman and her daughter.
    A Lewis County grand jury charged both Charles Stephen Freeman, 51, of Archbold, Ohio, and Joseph Metz, 39, of Horner with two counts of first-degree murder on Wednesday in a sealed indictment, media outlets reported.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads