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Gee named one of the country’s top college presidents

Zach Tuggle / The Lantern

Time magazine has named Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee one of the 10 best college presidents in America.

In the article, written by David Von Drehle, Gee is described as a “thoroughbred politician” and as a cross between Orville Redenbacher and Harold Hill. Much is made of Gee’s ability to seem at ease in any situation, whether he is milking a cow at the state fair or telling jokes to a group of farmers. In the article, Gee describes his job as “the most political nonpolitical office around.”

But what makes Gee one of the best college presidents, the article states, is his dedication to OSU as an integral part of the Ohio economy. Gee presides over 40,000 employees, one of the largest hospitals in the state and a $4.35 billion budget.

“Dr. Gee understands that institutions of higher education and the business community partnering together are an important part of our plan to create jobs and lasting economic growth,” said Gov. Ted Strickland in a press release. “I am so proud that Dr. Gee received this significant distinction for his incredible leadership and the national prominence he brings to the university and our state.”

Gee’s talent as a fundraiser is also noted as one of his better qualities. Gee has been known to never waste a moment and spends much of his free time raising money for the university. It is this quality that allowed Gee to continue the freeze on in-state tuition for OSU students for the third straight year.

During his first year returning as OSU president, Gee has traveled to each of the 88 counties in Ohio to visit with alumni.

“He has a tremendous vision of what this university can be,” said Jay Hansen of the OSU Alumni Association. “It absolutely comes as no surprise at all that he would be given this recognition.”

Much is also made of Gee’s willingness to take on any challenge.

There is mention of his successful bid to change the academic calendar from quarters to semesters. The article mentions that Gee cared less about the calendar switch and more about how the switch would force faculty to redesign and rethink their courses.

Another aspect of Gee’s philosophy that has made him so successful is his determination to align with other institutions of higher education in Ohio. He is quoted in the article as saying, “our greatest partnership here at Ohio State should be with the community colleges. We’re all part of the same mission, which is education from pre-K through life.”

Gee began his career as a college president at West Virginia University in 1981. He then went on to lead the University of Colorado from 1985 to 1990, and had his first stint with OSU from 1990 to 1997. He then became the president of Brown University for three years before taking the position of Chancellor at Vanderbilt University for seven years. He returned to OSU last year.

“Now the rest of the country knows what we do — that Gee is a superb leader,” said Richard Gunther, a professor of political science at OSU. “He has accomplished an amazing amount in his two terms as president to raise the stature and overall quality of OSU.”  

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