Ohio State President Gordon Gee To Retire In July

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Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee retires July 1.(Photo: Carmen Ambrosio / Flickr)
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee retires July 1.(Photo: Carmen Ambrosio / Flickr)

OSU president Gordon Gee sent out an email to the university community around 3 p.m. Tuesday to announce he’ll leave July First.

Gee said it was during a recent family vacation he began to consider leaving Ohio State. The email stated after “much deliberation, I have decided it is now time to turn over the reins of leadership.”

Since late last week, Gee has made numerous apologies after some disparaging comments he made during an OSU athletics council meeting in December became public.

Gee questioned the Southeastern Conference’s academic integrity, put down former Wisconsin football coach Brett Bielema and slammed Catholics while criticizing Notre Dame.

“First of all, they’re not very good partners, I’ll just say that,” Gee said. “I negotiated with them during my first term. The Fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. And you know, you just can’t’ trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or Friday.”

Gee apologized for all of the comments. He said they were a poor attempt at humor.

This is not the first time Gee has apologized for off-putting remarks. And this time, it garnered attention from OSU trustees.

In a letter to Gee, board president Robert Schottenstein told Gee he could be fired if he made another misstep and that the board would consider his remarks when it reviewed his compensation during his yearly evaluation.

So for many, Gee’s retirement does not come as a surprise.

Moria Dressel, of Dayton, was walking across the Oval with her daughter who was on campus for freshman orientation.

“Quite honestly, I wasn’t very surprised. I’ve been reading the paper, and I have a brother who went to Notre Dame, so I’ve been kind of following the recent issue.”

Dressel has two other children who attend OSU.

“I’m disappointed because he’s such a nice guy. Everybody loves him. All the kids love him. He’s definitely going to be missed.”

Recent OSU graduate Matthew Gardner had not heard the announcement, so he was surprised when WOSU broke the news to him. But Gardner quickly connected Gee’s recent comments to his decision.

“I still don’t think comments like that should be made,” Gardner said. “Just coming from a community that’s deeply enriched in that religion and everything; I heard a lot of people took offense to it and weren’t to happy with it.”

OSU English Department chair Richard Dutton said he met with Gee Monday and did not pick up on any signals he was preparing to make big news. But given the past several days, Dutton said he was not surprised either.

“A large part of me is quite sad. I mean, he as has become so identified with this institution,” Dutton said. “In terms of the larger way the university is run, the way it’s been building up its reserves, he clearly has been responsible for major, major developments in the university and it’s sad to see it’s come to an end.”

Provost Joseph Alutto will take the interim reigns. Alutto planned to retire in July. And until yesterday, he was set to be tapped to lead Columbus City Schools as its interim superintendent.

This is not Alutto’s first time as interim president; he served in 2007 after former OSU president Karen Holbrook left.

The English department’s first year writing program director Edgar Singleton said it makes sense for Alutto to step in.

“He certainly has served the university for a long time and as an interim would provide a kind of continuity to operations at the university,” Singleton said. “People certainly know him and his style which is, I think, much different from president Gee’s in terms of his stateness.”

Alutto currently serves as OSU’s chief academic officer. And he served as dean of the OSU business school.

Gee’s OSU career began in 1990. He left in 1997, but he returned to the job in 2007. In his retirement announcement, Gee touted his recent efforts to raise $1.6 billion in private funding and stated “Ohio State is well-positioned for the future.”

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