President Emeritus of The Ohio State University and former West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee was named today as president of WVU, effective in early January.

WVU’s Board of Governors voted unanimously Thursday to approve the selection, and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission unanimously voted its approval today.

Dr. Gee will serve in that role until a permanent president is in place. He will take an unpaid leave of absence from Ohio State, and will continue his commitment to lead and complete his work for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Quality and Value Initiative:

He also will remain involved with the newly established Center for Higher Education Enterprise, approved Thursday at Ohio State. Deborah Merritt, the John Deaver Drinko/Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, has been appointed associate director of the center and will coordinate its day-to-day operations.

Gee, 69, replaces Jim Clements, who announced in November he would leave the presidency at the end of the year. Gee will live at Blaney House, and fully participate in the active life of a University president.

To read reaction to the appointment of Gee, go here

“I am delighted that Dr. Gee has accepted our invitation to lead our state’s flagship, land-grant university while we conduct a national search for a new WVU system leader,” said WVU Board Chair James W. Dailey II. “He is a seasoned and respected higher education leader who has served five major universities over 33 years, and I am confident he will continue the great work going on here and the momentum this University is enjoying.

“What’s more, he understands the national higher education landscape and is very familiar with our University. We’re thrilled to welcome WVU’s 19th president home.”

Dailey said Gee is expected to be on campus Tuesday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with the University community.

Reached in Columbus, Ohio, Gee said, “West Virginia University is where my journey as a university president began more than three decades ago, so it has always had a special meaning for me. When I was 36, this great land-grant institution gave me an extraordinary opportunity to serve as its president. Indeed, I understand the mission of land-grant institutions, and know the importance of WVU to the state and the university community. I am delighted now to be able to come back – and give back – to the West Virginia University community while also continuing my commitments to Ohio State, as well as higher education in Ohio and nationally.”

Gee has twice served as president of The Ohio State University, from 1990-1997 and later from 2007 to July of this year. He was also president of Vanderbilt University (2000-2007), Brown University (1998-2000), the University of Colorado (1985-1990) and WVU (1981-1985). He also served as the dean of the WVU College of Law from 1979-1981.

“West Virginia University will have a strong leader in Gordon Gee,” said Ohio State Interim President Joseph A. Alutto. “Given Gordon’s deep experience and understanding of the power of the land-grant mission in the 21st century, he is certain to move WVU forward in meaningful ways.”

In 2009, Gee was named by TIME as one of the Top 10 university presidents in the United States.

When he became president of WVU, it was widely reported that he was among the youngest college presidents in the United States. During his tenure, Gee recalled, WVU Hospitals was incorporated “through the hard work of the West Virginia Legislature and many good friends and WVU supporters.” That effort also led to the construction of Ruby Memorial Hospital.

The WVU Research Corp. was established under his leadership to elevate the importance of innovation and the research enterprise as part of the land-grant mission.

In addition, the WVU Foundation was restructured during Gee’s presidency to address strategic needs of the University, as well as relationship-building. New facilities that sprung up during his time at WVU included the College of Business and Economics and the now-named Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Born and raised in Utah, Gee earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and a J.D. and Ed.D. from Columbia University.

He has been a member of many education-governance organizations and committees, including the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, the Business-Higher Education Forum and the American Association of Universities. He was also chair of the American Council on Education’s Commission on Higher Education Attainment and served as co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Energy Advisory Committee.

He has received a number of honorary degrees, awards, fellowships and recognitions, including an honorary Doctor of Law degree from WVU. He is the co-author of 11 books, including Law, Policy and Higher Education, published in 2012. He is also the author of numerous papers and articles on law and education.

He is the father of a daughter, Rebekah, who is the Medicaid Medical Director for the state of Louisiana and assistant professor at Louisiana State University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, and the proud grandfather to five grandchildren.

Click here to download President Gee’s contract

His annualized salary at WVU will be $450,000.

During Friday’s meeting, the Commission also approved procedures and guidelines for WVU’s national presidential search. Dailey will chair the committee and it will include the following voting members: three faculty, three staff, three students, three BOG members, two administrators, two alumni and two Foundation representatives and one representative from the two divisional campuses. In addition, Gee will serve as an advisor to the BOG and search committee, and HEPC Chancellor Paul Hill will serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the committee.

“Our goal will continue to be to have a new president in place by fall,” Dailey said. “Finding the right person to continue to lead this great University forward will be one of the most important things any of us on this presidential search committee do.”

For comments from state, WVU and higher education leaders on Gee’s appointment, visit:

To send best wishes to Dr. Gee, e-mail:




John A. Bolt; WVU University Relations/News

E. Gayle Saunders; The Ohio State University/Communications

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