PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dr. Gordon Gee is no stranger to running big universities.
After two stints as president of Ohio State University, and president of Vanderbilt University, Brown University, and the University of Colorado, he is now back for his second stint as the top man at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Gee sat down with KDKA money & politics editor Jon Delano on Thursday afternoon.
Delano: “How many universities can you be president of?”
Dr. Gee: “You know, that’s the reason I came back to West Virginia. Been president of half the others, so had to come back — just kidding you. I was very blessed. I was very young when I became a university president – West Virginia – 36 at the time.”
That was 34 years ago.
Now at age 70, Gee is back to lead WVU once again, after retiring last year from Ohio State.
“It’s very West Virginia specific,” says Gee, who turned down other opportunities. “It’s just a place that has held a very dear place in my heart, and West Virginians are very special people.”
Gee wants to grow WVU, promoting work in energy development like coal and shale and health care in rural Appalachia.
“We’re playing a very central role in terms of making that energy independence occur, but also health care, particularly rural health care,” he said.
Gee accepts WVU’s rep as a party school only up to a point.
“Work hard, play hard, have a great educational experience. You know this is the last chance you can be irresponsible responsibly,” he adds.
And he himself has gotten into trouble, like comparing running a university to leading the Polish army, or referring to a weak football schedule as playing the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“I have the top 10 list. It was on the front page of the New York Times of statements which I’ve made which are gaffes, and I make no excuses for them,” he said.
But Gee fits right in as a huge WVU sports enthusiast.
So how about a Backyard Brawl with Pitt?
With Morgantown just an hour and a half away and with some 12,000 West Virginia alums in the Pittsburgh area, Gee says he wants to bring it back.
Delano: “Can you make it happen?”
Dr. Gee: “I certainly can. If given the opportunity I’ll do that. In fact, I would love to see that happen. I think it would be great for this part of the world.”
Of course, he expects his Mountaineers to beat the Panthers.
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