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Gordon Gee Accepts Trustees’ Offer to Return to Ohio State
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After being gone from the state for a decade Gordon Gee returns to Ohio State as the university’s fourteenth president. Gee was re-introduced Thursday afternoon following a unanimous vote from OSU’s board of trustees.
Gordon Gee, sporting a scarlet and grey bowtie, was welcomed back to Ohio State University with an extended standing ovation.
Gee told very excited audience members, which included Coach Jim Tressel and State House Speaker John Husted, he is following his heart by returning to Ohio State University.
“I want to thank all of you for letting me come home. I really do,” Gee said.
Gee mentioned several times throughout his acceptance speech that he is returning to a different university as a different person. And, Gee, who is known for his humorous side joked about his homecoming.
“I am returning as a different and more mature, I hope, and more thoughtful academic leader. This is a much different university than I left in 1997. And I’m a much different person. This is not Back to the Future’; this is not Halloween II’ either. And I do not intend on being the Grover Cleveland of university presidents,” Gee joked.
Gee said he can better understand, identify, create and sustain academic excellence. And he asked to be held accountable.
“Hold me to that standard. Expect that of me. Make certain that I say what I am and what I do. And that is the maturing process,” Gee said.
Gee, who leaves his chancellorship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said he expects to be able to finally get a good night’s rest now that he will return to Ohio and a public university.
“I have spent ten years, not in the wilderness, because I love those institutions, but I woke up every morning and I said why am I here? A private institution has a particular role to play, but 80 percent of the students in this country are educated in our public universities. They are the front door to the American dream,” Gee said.
Gee, who went to a public university himself, credits his success to institutions like Ohio State and describe OSU as the American dream.
“I stand before you because you have fulfilled my dreams. So I thank you very much,” he said.
Gee did not initially accept Ohio State’s offer to return as president. He said he first turned down the job because did not know all of the details and had a responsibility to Vanderbilt.
Gee said he flew to Columbus and visited OSU’s campus and felt at home. He said it was at that moment he realized he should take the job.
Gee, who is taking a large pay cut, will make $775,000 a year plus benefits. If he stays for five years his salary will increase to $1 million.