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Gee: ‘It’s a big damn deal’

Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee arrived to his 5 p.m. appointment with The Lantern staff at 5:15 p.m.

Gee repeatedly apologized for his tardiness and said his trip to the nation’s capital put him behind.

“I’ve been in Washington all day,” Gee said. “Do I still look alive?”

Despite his tardiness, Gee fit a lot into 45 minutes, including the semester switch, Spring Commencement, tuition and Charlie Sheen.

First on the agenda was the semester switch. The switch from quarters to semesters in the fall of 2012 is no small task, Gee said.

“This is like planning the Normandy invasion,” Gee said, gently pounding his fist on the desk. “This is a big damn deal.”

Despite the scope of the endeavor, Gee indicated there have been no issues related to the switch so far and that students should know if they will be able to graduate on schedule in early fall.

Students graduating this spring will hear a commencement speech from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Gee said he was very involved in the selection process for Spring Commencement and all commencements.

The selection has stirred controversy around the university because of Boehner’s role in Pell Grant debates, but Gee countered the suggestion that there was backlash about the choice.

“There has been a lot of pro-lash,” Gee said. “The reason John Boehner was selected was not on his politics. He’s the third most powerful person in the country, politically.”

Gee also pointed out that Boehner is the first Speaker of the House from Ohio since the late 1920s.

“If we had a litmus test for everyone we asked, we wouldn’t invite anyone,” Gee said. “If they’re doing what they should be doing then they’re making decisions that some people are not going to like.”

Gee said he doesn’t think the speech will be political.

On tuition, Gee said he is not about making college expensive, but he thinks OSU’s tuition is more than appropriate for the quality of education students receive.

“I’m a low tuition guy,” Gee said. “We’ve undervalued this institution for years, in terms of our tuition.”

OSU receives about 10 percent of its budget from the state of Ohio and Gee said he thinks the bureaucracy at the federal and state level has overregulated, but he doesn’t disagree with their decision on tuition.

“If there were not a tuition cap, how much would I have raised it? 3.5 percent,” Gee said.

Bureaucracy is also an issue within OSU, Gee said.

“The biggest bureaucracy we have is our own damn bureaucracy,” Gee said. “Out of the 550 things I love about Ohio State, the one thing I hate is when people say ‘You can’t do that.’ And I say, ‘Why?’ and they say, ‘Because that’s not the way we do things at Ohio State,’ as if Woody Hayes himself dictated that.”

Gee said that mentality is wrong.

“Sacred cows make the best hamburgers,” Gee said.

Extended hours at the Thompson Library might be a sacred cow to those accustomed to late night study, but Gee isn’t sure if it is worth the $50,000 expense just yet.

“We’re doing this, this quarter, to find out how it’s going and once we know what the numbers are we will make that judgment, but it‘s too early,” Gee said.

The president was certain about his opinion of Charlie Sheen. Gee said he doesn’t watch much TV, but he was also quick to his opinion of the controversial actor.

“He looks like a doofus to me,” Gee said. “Either that or he’s a great marketer. But no, I’m not a fan.”


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