Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee to retire July 1

A week after his comments about Notre Dame, the SEC and the Catholic religion went public, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee announced today his intention to retire effective July 1, 2013.  The two-time Ohio State president made his announcement this afternoon in an email to students, faculty and staff. The Columbus Dispatch broke the story.

“Without question, the university has achieved remarkable success, and it has been my honor and calling to lead it,” Gee’s email says. “Ohio State is well-positioned for the future. I love this university, and my relationship with it will continue.”

Gee met with the Trustee board after he made the remarks in December, but there was no real action taken. Since the comments came to light late last week, the board met again with Gee on Monday.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the University was ready to hand down a stiff penalty on the President if he decided to stay on. For the record, Gee stated that his decision to retire was after a vacation.

“I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reigns of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself.”

[Related: Gee could be fired with one more slip up]

  • DHass22

    Good call Gee, positive spin.

  • Harv 21

    Not an OSU fan or hater, but seems to me this is appropriate. While he leaves the university in a stronger place academically and athletically that when he arrived he’s the spokesperson for the place, the face, not just its main fundraiser and administrator. His words count, and that requires him to exercise greater verbal self-control greater than expected of the head football coach, the AD, members of the board of trustees.

    It’s not “political correctness run amok.” It was just more speaking without thinking, stupidity, and after all that it wasn’t even really funny. OSU is a nice gig for a university prez, and it can do better.

  • gobucks

    Both of the other comments must come from people who have 0 connection to Ohio State. Alumni (like myself) would know better than to think this is anything but a terrible move for the university. Read this and then think twice about saying goodbye to Gordon Gee so easily – http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2013/06/22517/the-mensch-connection-gee-ohiostate-buckeyes

  • 5KMD

    So, I took the time and read your article but I still don’t understand how his personal tragedy as a younger man gives him a lifelong pass to make jokes about other nationalities, religions, etc. In fact, he should be more aware of other people’s sensitivities.
    What if someone made a joke about his wife’s passing? Not the same thing you say? Well the jokester does not get to decide what jokes are insulting and which are not.
    And making a ton of money for the universiity does not give him a free pass either. He’s the President of the state’s biggest public university. He needs to realize people care more about what he says than a normal person. That is the platform he chose vluntarily so now accept the consequences.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    seems everyone buried the lede which is really this:

    “I think we’re moving precipitously toward about three or four superconferences of about 16 to 20 teams. And the possibility of them bolting from the NCAA is not unlikely.”

    yes harv, this is indeed PC run amok. i’ve yet to read a report on the gee thing that offers context on the ‘can’t trust catholics’ remark which was clearly without malice. the only stupidity on gee’s side was to assign a low-level of reasoning ability and fair-mindedness to those who might hear his comments. that, i guess, was stupid. we need more such stupid people educational institutions.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    good referral, good article by ramzy. thanks.

  • Harv 21

    Nah, the test isn’t the presence of malice. That’s a test for 2 strangers chatting at a ballgame, or me and you tossing our half-wit opinions at each other. The test for Gee is whether a high-profile executive representing a high-profile institution understands that his words will be scrutinized and, if he does understand that, whether he has the discipline to taste his words before he says them. And, of course whether he still has a sense of taste.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    it’s too bad truth and context don’t qualify as ‘tests’ for ‘ok speech.’ to wit:

    * the ‘cant trust’ comment was obviously tongue-in-cheek;
    * ND is demonstrably not a good partner… see their football TV contract which they don’t share with the ACC while they build their hoops program on the rep of UNC/Duke.

    the audience bears some responsibility for being able to process the speaker’s thoughts. otherwise.. why bother. if the listener can’t process context and truth then .. then we’re looking at more ESPN and sports talk radio discourse which i just don’t see trending toward Algonquin.

    by the bye: were you personally offended by his remark? if yes, do really you think he meant that he can’t trust catholics? if no, who made you the guardian of catholic hurt feelings?

  • Garry_Owen

    But context is absolutely important. For all we know, the room in which Gee was speaking when someone recorded his comments was half full – or even full – of Catholics. It was obviously a joke, and we do not know the context in which the joke was made or the response that it got. The recording does nothing to provide discernment as to the “taste” that Gee had for the joke or for the “taste” that the audience had for it (with the exception, presumably, of one person – but we don’t even know what motives drove that person to record the comments and then leak the limited contents of the recording).

    If it wasn’t PC run amok, then there wouldn’t have been the leak of a surreptitious recording (6 months after the fact), or the headlines and spin on ESPN, etc. It’s absolutely about political correctness in an overly-sensitive and too-easily-offended society. (But for the record, I don’t really care about the result.)

  • Garry_Owen

    Okay, upon review of Ramzy’s article, I see that it wasn’t a surreptitious recording. Rather, it was an AP witchhunt (ahem, “routine public information request”). Oh so much better!

  • Garry_Owen

    Every so-called gaffe that he has made was obviously a harmless joke, but we’re all so grievously offended simply because “we’re supposed to be.” (Definitional political correctness.)

    Each and every Gee apology should have been: “Lighten up, people.”

  • Harv 21

    my last comment on this: no, I wasn’t personally offended, or believe myself a guardian. Though I generally believe I have no right to tell an ethnic group what should not or should offend them, and also believe that words matter and can be far more harmful than physical actions, I won’t be drawn into the overly simplistic “PC amok” debate. I look at the Gee sitch from a different angle. Turning the prism a little: what is appropriate public speech content for a high-level exec who is the face of the university? His statements – this one, the Tressel statement – would have been idiotic 30 years ago . If he can’t control his gas – due to age, gastrointestinal issues or some combination – the book distributor can’t have him pitching encyclopedias in living rooms, even if some think it funny or have a grandpa who can’t help doing the same thing. That’s not the image it needs or wants to explain, it wants the focus on the books.

  • 5KMD

    Come on Jim, the ACC knew what they were getting with Notre Dame and were not forced to sign that contract. They get a ton of exposure and other benefits out of that relationship so stating ND is not a good partner as a fact is rediculous and biased on your part.

  • osu2win

    It was completely out of context if you read the transcript. The alum in the audience posted the question “Hey Alabama says the Big Ten can’t count, they have 14 teams!” and Gee responds “Tell them to get back to me when they can read and write” … to laughter of the crowd.

    I’d rather have a down to earth university pres who worked tirelessly to advance the school as a whole (research, academics, athletics, fundraising, etc) than one who turns the other way when crimes are being committed (ahem Graham Spanier). OSU was an academic laughing stock in the 1980’s pre-Gee and now we are a top 20 public university and our degrees are worth much more now because of him.

    He toured all the counties of Ohio in the summer talking to local business and community leaders and he couldn’t have been more down to earth and friendly. Same as when you bump into him on campus, which nearly every single one of 50,000 students can say happened to them at least once. I know it did for me.

    He’ll be missed. Hopefully they can land another visionary leader, which you must be to run 50k+ students, 20k+ employees, $2b+ endowment, regional campuses, etc, etc. This is where Holbrook fell short. She was too in bed with the tenured prof’s to see the whole picture from a macro perspective.

    Tressel anyone?