Joe Podelco / Photo editor
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee stopped into The Lantern newsroom Wednesday evening to discuss a number of issues that fuel the university, ranging from a likely tuition increase next year to his quick trip to the Sugar Bowl.
“When our teams play I get so nervous that I can’t watch them,” Gee said. “I pace and I ponder so I never see any of the plays.”
Gee finished his interviews with The Lantern editorial board just in time to watch the last 9.4 seconds of the men’s basketball game.
Gee: ‘A low-tuition guy’
“There’s a high probability we will increase tuition next year.”
Gee said he believes higher education will see a reduction in government funding under Gov. John Kasich.
But with Ohio’s budget “up in the air,” Gee said, there’s no telling exactly how much money Kasich will allocate to higher education. With the state facing a more-than $8 billion deficit, it’s not likely to be much.
“I believe that the likelihood of the university getting additional funds is not high,” Gee said.
Though he described himself as “a low-tuition guy,” Gee said increasing tuition probably will be necessary to supplement OSU’s cost-reducing efforts, such as deregulation of university processes.
“It’s about deregulation. The more that we can control our own agenda, the more ability we have to be able to be fiscally prudent and to be able to generate our own resources,” Gee said. “We are very cognizant of the cost of education. We’re always going to try to be as fair as we can to families.”
Gee spent Wednesday with Kasich in Detroit but said their conversations are confidential.
Speaking as a fan
Billboards are great because they are “building up the economy in the state,” Gee said.
He even approves the 20 electronic billboards around the Columbus area that targeted the comments Gee made in late November slighting the TCU football program.
The billboards congratulated TCU on its Rose Bowl victory, courtesy of the Little Sisters of the Poor. On Wednesday, the digital billboards ran a new design after consulting with the real Little Sisters of the Poor in Baltimore. This time, the message was courtesy of “friends of the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
Gee said he received a “tremendous amount of criticism” on the comments he made criticizing the strength of schedules of teams such as TCU and Boise State.
Gee vainly attempted to fabricate names of schools, such as Southwestern Missouri State University, in order to draw comparisons between Ohio State and smaller schools.
“Then I said, ‘Well, we’re not the Montana School of Massage,’ and low and behold there is a Montana School of Massage and I got an angry note about that. So I started to say, ‘Well, there sure isn’t a Little Sisters of the Poor.’ And there was,” Gee said. “Sister Cecilia is a wonderful person.”
Gee admitted that his comments came off as arrogant and said he learned from his mistake.
“I’m being more careful about what I say about sports,” Gee said. “University presidents, particularly of large universities, particularly of this institution, lose their First Amendment rights.”
A three-phase housing plan
OSU is in the middle of a three-phase process to improve the quality of university housing and require all first- and second-years to live on campus.
Phase 1 consists of renovating OSU’s existing on-campus housing.
“We started on the south campus; we move to the north campus; we’ll try to figure out what to do with … Lincoln and Morrill towers,” Gee said. “That’s our No. 1 priority.”
The university already has a second-year on-campus living requirement in the books, Gee said, but does not enforce it because there is not enough living space on campus to house all first- and second-years. Phase 2 plans to solve that issue.
“The second thing would be to build enough significant additional housing to be able to house all freshmen and sophomores on the campus,” he said. “We will not enforce any arbitrary conditions until we have the ability to be able to ensure that housing is available.”
The final phase seeks to improve the quality of housing in the community surrounding campus for third-years and on, including graduate students.
Gee said he also thinks the university should play more of an active role in privately owned, off-campus housing that its students lease.
“We need to work with those who are building in the community to make sure that they’re meeting high standards,” he said.
Gee’s beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy
Gee’s appearance in The Lantern newsroom was sandwiched between a trip to Detroit with Kasich and a voyage to China.
Throughout his travels, Gee stays in tune with pop-culture.
“I have the new version of the James Taylor greatest hits album,” Gee said. “I love music, I listen to it a lot.”
Gee said he just downloaded the new Kanye West album and new Taylor Swift album.
“Kanye West has a great album,” Gee said. “I don’t like him, but he’s got a great album.”