Inside the Mind of One of the Most Recognized University Presidents
resident E. Gordon Gee is quite possibly the best known president of any college or university in the country. Known by his trademark bow ties and constantly seen around campus, in the dining halls, at sporting events, or even at house parties, President Gee simply is Ohio State. His pedigree is impressive, working at both big state universities (University of Colorado, West Virginia University, The Ohio State University) and private universities (Vanderbilt University, Brown University.)
LTCL wanted to interview the man behind one of the largest and most recognized universities in the country. We wanted to learn what culture changes are taking place and what university leaders are doing about them. What better place to start than with President Gee, one of the leading minds in progressive higher education movement. We asked about serious and not so serious topics, and found out more about President Gee the person. Here is an exclusive look into what he has to say:
Interview with President Gee
LTCL: What is the best part about Ohio State that stands out from the other schools that you have worked at? There must be something to bring you back here.
President Gee: Quite simply, Ohio State-and Columbus-is my home. We have the best damn people and the best damn community in the land.
LTCL: What is it that brought you back to Ohio State after being away for 15-20 years?
President Gee: I often refer to that ten-year interlude as my time in the wilderness. I consider myself blessed to be back at Ohio State and among Buckeye Nation.
LTCL: How does one become a college or university president? There is not really a track for that, is there? What was your major and how has it helped you with your current job?
President Gee: There is no one path to become a university president, I can assure you. But I must say that to dedicate one’s life to serve and educate the future leaders of this country is both a true calling and a privilege for me.
LTCL: I have to ask, is it actually you who updates your Facebook and Twitter accounts or do you have an assistant who does that? I’ve been curious for a while.
President Gee: I get this question a lot, and the truth is that I am an avid user of social media-Twitter and Facebook, primarily. They give such an effective way to communicate and share good news with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other leaders of higher education. (You can follow President Gee on Twitter here and like his Facebook page here.)
LTCL: If you can speak about it, what is the next big project OSU is
working on to “better” the campus?
President Gee: As you probably know, our new Wexner Medical Center expansion is on schedule. And, I am looking forward to the great work we will continue to do on campus and in the community to ensure that Ohio State remains the premier driver of the creative arts in Columbus.
LTCL: Is there any truth to the South Oval rumors here?
President Gee: If the plan is to build a doomsday bunker, no one has told me about it. So consider this myth “debunked.”
LTCL: Why do you think the academics and athletics at OSU coexist so well? Or do you think they coexist well?
President Gee: Athletics and Academics work incredibly well together at Ohio State-better than at any other institution in this country. The athletics department sustains itself and all 36 collegiate sports while returning nearly 25 percent of its budget to academics. And, our student athletes advance a longstanding tradition of excellence both on the field and in the classroom.
LTCL: If Ohio State could have one new academic program, what would it be and why?
President Gee: A bachelor’s degree in the Harlem Shake? Only kidding, of course.
LTCL: From your time spent at other schools, what is one thing that stands out that you learned from another school that you that you have brought to Ohio State?
President Gee: I have been the president of private universities, such as Brown and Vanderbilt, where the cost of tuition is not a major concern. As a land-grant university, Ohio State remains committed to making college affordable. In fact, just last week, I proposed that we freeze in-state tuition for the next year.
LTCL: Excluding Ohio State, what school do you most admire and why?
President Gee: I have worked with presidents all across the Big Ten, and I continue to be impressed by their vision and dedication.
That brought our interview with President Gee to a close. We feel President Gee represents what is hopefully the future of college presidents by how aware he is of college students’ interests and trends. He connects with students on a personal level by using social media and interviews such as this one, and that is why he is one of the best at what he does. We believe he is starting what could be a wave of more personally involved presidents. Let us know your thoughts about this interview. We would also like to hear about your university president and if you think he is becoming as progressive as Gee in a comment below.
Image Credit: The Chronical