COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gordon Gee, rehired by Ohio State University in 2007 to great fanfare, boldly declared, ”This is Ohio State’s time.”
He made good on the boast by reshaping the university into a leading academic institution. Yet Gee, also known for painful verbal gaffes, couldn’t stop staying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Gee, 69, announced his retirement Tuesday after his latest remarks, jabbing Roman Catholics and the University of Notre Dame, became public. Even then, he couldn’t play it straight at the end of a hastily called news conference.
”I’ve only got a month to ruin the university,” he joked. ”I’ve got to get at it.”
Gee said the furor over the remarks was only one of several factors that led to his decision. He also cited his age and the start of a long-term planning process at the university, which includes a trustee meeting Wednesday to talk about Ohio State’s future.
Gee’s remarks, jokingly referring to ”those damn Catholics” at Notre Dame and poking fun at the academic quality of other schools, were first reported last week by The Associated Press. Ohio State at the time called them unacceptable and said it had placed Gee on a ”remediation plan” to change his behavior.
Gee said he didn’t regret the way he conducted himself as a higher education leader.
”I have regrets when I have said things that I shouldn’t have said, but I have no regrets about having a sense of humor and having a thick skin and enjoying life,” he said.
Gee gave more explanations for his retirement at a news conference Wednesday morning, citing everything from a desire to spend more time with his identical twin granddaughters to seeing more of a ”significant other” in California whom he didn’t name. He also said he couldn’t escape the fact he is now 69 and ”a little bit slower.”
”I don’t want to be the president of the university and run it like a 69-year-old,” Gee said. ”I want to run it in the way that I can run full tilt. And so I don’t ever want to ever lose a step.” He said his health is good.
Continue Reading: Retiring Ohio State president cites age, family (The Associated Press)