E. Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University since 2007, will step down from the post July 1, months after making remarks he later apologized for.
Gee, 69, is ending his second term in the office, having earlier served as head of the Columbus, Ohio-based university from 1990 to 1997. Provost Joseph Alutto will serve as interim president until the board hires a permanent successor, Ohio State said today in an e-mailed statement.
Gee, who’s had one of the biggest compensation packages among college presidents, has been a controversial figure. He has used university funds to pay for flights on private jets and has apologized for remarks made about other schools. He’s also been an effective advocate for OSU, helping raise more than $1.6 billion for the college since 2007, the university said.
“After much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow,” Gee said in the statement.
The resignation follows a December meeting of the Ohio State Athletics Council, at which Gee referred to “those damn Catholics” at the University of Notre Dame, implied that the University of Louisville has poor academic integrity, and suggested that students at Southeastern Conference colleges can’t read or write, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported today. He apologized to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors for those comments last week, according to the newspaper.
Gee said he recently took some time with his family during which he considered the university’s achievements and future, and then came to the decision to step down.
“Gordon has been a transformational leader for Ohio State,” said Robert Schottenstein, chairman of the university’s board. “His thoughtful and unique leadership style has taken the university to new levels.”
Gee’s total annual compensation last year was $1.9 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gee has also served as president or chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Brown University, the University of Colorado and West Virginia University.