Gordon Gee

From Global Energy Monitor

Elwood Gordon Gee (born February 2, 1944) is an American academic. He is in his second tenure as the president of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio; he was previously president from 1990 to 1997.

Massey Energy

Gee had served on the board of controversial coal company Massey Energy since 2000, but resigned in May 2009 in response to a prolonged citizen campaign focused on Massey's worker safety and environmental record.[1]. Massey has come under harsh criticism for toxic coal sludge spills in Kentucky waterways, numerous deaths at Massey-owned mines including the Aracoma Alma Mine accident, and the practice of mountaintop removal mining.[2] In October of 2000, Massey was responsible for a spill of 300 million gallons of coal waste into two streams in Kentucky. The Martin County sludge spill was 25 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill of 12 million gallons. [3]

Career as university president

Gee has held more university presidencies than any other American.[4] Prior to his resumption of the presidency of Ohio State on October 1, 2007, Gee was chancellor of Vanderbilt University from 2000 to 2007 and president of Brown University from 1997 to 2000, of the University of Colorado from 1985 to 1990, and of West Virginia University from 1981 to 1985.

Education and early career

Gee attended the University of Utah, where he graduated in 1968. After earning doctorates in law and education from Columbia University, Gee clerked for Chief Justice Warren Burger.[5]

Gee served as professor and associate dean at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He became dean and professor at West Virginia University's law school in 1979, and president of the university two years later. As president of a university at age 37, he was one of the youngest chief executives in academia at the time.

Gee moved to the University of Colorado in 1985, then to Ohio State University in 1990. He became president of Brown University in 1998.

Brown tenure

Gee was president of Brown for only two years, and his tenure was mired in controversy. According to The Village Voice and the College Hill Independent, one of the university's campus newspapers, Gee was criticized by students and faculty for treating the school like a Wall Street corporation rather than an Ivy League university.

Critics pointed to his decisions to sign off on an ambitious brain science program without consulting the faculty, to sell $80 million in bonds for the construction of a biomedical sciences building, and to cut the university's extremely popular Charleston String Quartet, which many saw as part of Gee's effort to lead the school away from its close but unprofitable relationship with the arts.[6] Gee and his wife were also blamed for an extravagant renovation of the president's residence, which reportedly cost several million dollars.

Gee left under a storm of criticism in 2000, as members of the Brown community widely accused him of departing the school after an uncommonly short tenure because of Vanderbilt University's offer of a corporate-level salary and a tenured teaching position for his wife. According to a 2003 article by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Gee was the second highest paid university chief executive in the country with a purported total compensation package of more than $1.3 million.[7]

Vanderbilt tenure

Gee enjoyed a relatively calm tenure at Vanderbilt compared to Brown. He was generally well-liked by faculty and students, demonstrated by his uncommonly high student approval ratings. In 2005, when Gee's approval saw a comparatively sharp drop, it still stood at 88.4%.[8] During his tenure, Vanderbilt saw a dramatic increase in student applications—more than 50% in six years—and a similarly dramatic rise in the SAT scores of incoming freshmen. Under his tenure, the university completed a $1.25 billion fundraising campaign two years ahead of schedule.

Gee holds a copy of the hoax newspaper that reported his death in 2003.

A September 2006 Wall Street Journal article detailed some of Gee's problems at Vanderbilt—including his wife's actions (such as smoking marijuana in the chancellor's official residence), criticism of the high cost of renovating his home, and the couple's lavish spending—had come back to haunt him. Additionally, Gee's 2002 announcement that the administration was going to rename "Confederate Memorial Hall" without the word Confederate, evoked a series of lawsuits. While Vanderbilt's board expressed some concern about Gee's spending, they also strongly endorsed his successful leadership. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,[9] he received a total compensation of over $1.8 million in 2005/6, the highest of any continuing university president in the United States.

Second Ohio State tenure

On July 11, 2007, Gee announced that he would be returning to Ohio State as its president, ending his 7-year tenure at Vanderbilt.[10] According to The Chronicle of Higher Education,[9] he will receive a base salary of total compensation of over $1 million, the highest of any public university president in the United States, though less than his pay at Vanderbilt.

Personal life

Gee was born and grew up in Vernal, Utah, the son of an oil company employee and a school teacher. He served as a Mormon missionary in Germany.[11] Gee has been twice married and divorced.[12]


  1. http://www.ohiocitizen.org/campaigns/coal/gee.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/green-commencement-speech_b_196948.html
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB8WQddz8x0
  4. Rosenthal, Eric T. (2007-12-25). "Largest Building Project in History of Ohio State". Oncology Times. 29 (24): 22–26. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  5. E. Gordon Gee: Introducing the seventeenth president by Norman Boucher, Brown Alumni Magazine, September/October 1997. Accessed October 12, 2004.
  6. Premature Evacuation: Why Did Gordon Gee Abandon Brown? by Blake A. Zeff, The Village Voice, August 2, 2000. Retrieved October 29, 2005.
  7. Closing In on $1-Million by Julianne Basinger, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 14, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2005.
  8. Ceryanec, Megan (March 23, 2005). "Gee's approval rating near 90 percent". The Vanderbilt Hustler. {{cite news}}: |access-date= requires |url= (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Page B13, Nov.16, 2007
  10. Loos, Ralph (2007-07-11). "Gee to leave Vanderbilt for Ohio State". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2007-07-11. {{cite news}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. Gordon Gee (March 28, 2006). Everything I Know about Being a Mormon I Learned from Running Universities, BYU Forum.
  12. "Vanderbilt Chancellor Gee and wife agree on divorce". NashvillePost.com. 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2007-02-28. {{cite web}}: Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

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External resources

Wikipedia also has an article on Gordon Gee. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.