For The Register-Herald
E. Gordon Gee was named West Virginia University’s permanent president today — the third time he’s been asked to lead the state’s land-grant, flagship research University.
Gee, 70, first served as president from 1981-1985 — hired when he was just 36. He returned in January 2014 for a term to replace the departing Jim Clements. Gee was asked by the WVU Board of Governors Monday to serve as the University’s permanent 24th president — pending a special meeting of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and its approval.
The Board’s vote, during an emergency meeting, was unanimous. The Presidential Search Committee had met in emergency session Friday to endorse Gee for the permanent post and request that the Board amend the search guidelines and take all necessary steps to retain him. The Board today adopted the committee’s recommendation.
“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,” BOG Chair James W. Dailey II said Friday. “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 and the Board had a change of heart.”
“It is clear Gordon Gee has not been a placeholder president by any means; he has been an extraordinary high energy leader who is getting things done, moving us forward and clearly has the support of our Board, senior University leaders, faculty and staff, students, elected officials, higher education peers and opinion leaders. Countless people have urged us from Day One to keep him.”
Gee has been serving in an interim role at WVU since the departure of former president Jim Clements, who is now at Clemson University. Dr. Gee’s current contract will remain in place while a new two-year contract — the maximum under statute — is developed.
“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. When I informed him of our interest, and our unanimous and overwhelming support, he did not hesitate in saying yes. This is his home again – and he is as captivated by us as we are with him,” Dailey added.
President Gee reaffirmed his love and commitment to West Virginia University, saying, “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. I am honored, energized and humbled to serve West Virginia University as the 24th president.”
Gee has twice served as president of The Ohio State University, from 1990-1997 and later from 2007-2013. He was also president of Vanderbilt University (2000-2007), Brown University (1998-2000), the University of Colorado (1985-1990) and WVU (1981-1985; Jan.-Feb. 2014; and March 2014 and beyond). He also served as the dean of the WVU College of Law from 1979-1981.