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Commentary: Ohio State not hurt by loss of Gordon Gee

OSU President Emeritus E. Gordon Gee during an interview with The Lantern Oct. 21. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

OSU President Emeritus E. Gordon Gee during an interview with The Lantern Oct. 21.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

E. Gordon Gee is like a lovable pet. The former Ohio State president brings a great character wherever he goes, but he can’t help leaving a little mess.

In his tenure as president of Brown University from 1998-2000, he made cuts to arts programs and his term ended during a related controversy. Brown actually has portable toilets called the “E. Gordon Gee Lavatory Complex” that appear during their spring weekend.

Gee’s stay as president of Vanderbilt University from 2001-07 was marked by lavish spending on himself and the unexpected cutting of Vanderbilt’s entire athletic department.

Even his stay at OSU was cut short by negative comments he made.

Gee announced his decision to retire from OSU July 1 days after controversial comments he made at a Dec. 5, 2012, OSU Athletic Council meeting came under public scrutiny. Remarks about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular brought national attention.

Gee, however, cannot be kept down for long. He is serving as the president of West Virginia University for the second time — he was also president of WVU from 1981-85 — and released a nice little video on WVU’s website about it Wednesday.

Gee’s “Top 10 Reasons Why It Is Great to Be Back at West Virginia University” is a lighthearted play on David Letterman’s top 10 lists. Gee says in the video he loves WVU’s cookies, its ziplines, and he loves gold and blue.

Now, Gee means a lot to OSU and anyone in connection with OSU. He also means, though, a lot of things to countless individuals outside of the OSU community. We might love him, but he is not the university itself.

In his absence, OSU has not burned to the ground. There has been no invasion of rabid wolverines and no shortage of excitement. What makes a college is not just its leader, but the thousands of people who carry its standards day in and day out.

Gee is still set to be president emeritus of OSU when a permanent WVU president is found, but for all we know, he will want to stay in the mountains. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I have a picture of myself with Gee in my old residence hall, just like I have a picture of myself with my ex in my old room back home. Wherever these people go, times were good and life goes on.

It does not matter so much who the next old leader of OSU will be, but who the next new leader will be.


  1. this article is a disgrace to our university. what a shame this was ever published

  2. You offer no support for your title unless I'm supposed to believe that because "there has been no invasion of rabid wolverines," Ohio State has not been hurt. It's OK to admit that you miss him; it might even be healthy.

  3. +1 vote for the lantern to take this down.

  4. Dr. Gee seems like a great guy, and does anyone else have a problem with Dr. Gee’s former multi-million dollar salary? I strikes me as strange that a land-grant university with the mission of providing an AFFORDABLE higher education to the citizens of Ohio would compensate their president many times that which all other Big Ten presidents are paid. Perhaps his replacement will receive a much less exuberant salary.

  5. Commentary-The Lantern’s Opinion writers have way too much time on their hands. This piece says essentially nothing. Who comes up with this crap?

  6. GREAT article. Seriously, why are people so blinded by Gee’s bow ties and bar appearances. He’s not that great!

  7. Here’s what happened to me when I finally graduated from OSU after going part-time for 14 years.

    As Gee handed the diploma to me, I said to him “This degree took 44 quarters to complete.”.
    His reply: “You must really be old.”.

    How do you think I feel about this loser?

    And why of why did OSU hire him back after he quit?
    If we weren’t good enough the first time around, don’t apply again!

  8. Osu had a gf!

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