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Gordon Gee approved as interim president of West Virginia University

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During the Higher Education Policy Commission meeting Dec. 6, E. Gordon Gee was approved in a 10-minute executive session at the end of a nearly three-hour meeting as interim president at West Virginia University.

Gee, 69, will fill the spot of former WVU President James Clements, who is leaving WVU for Clemson University at the start of 2014.

Gee is professor of law and president emeritus at The Ohio State University. He will be taking an unpaid leave of absence from the school to serve in this capacity from Jan. 1 through mid-June. His annualized salary, according to WVU, will be $450,000, which accounts to $37,500 per month, and in Gee's case, from January through June, will amount to $225,000.

He was president of West Virginia University from 1981 through 1985, and then served as president of the University of Colorado, then Ohio State University and Brown University. He also was chancellor of Vanderbilt University before returning to Ohio State University as its 14th president in 2007. He announced his retirement in June 2013. Gee is a native of Utah and earned his law degree and doctorate in education from Columbia University. He was dean of the WVU College of Law from 1979 until 1981.

Gee will be on WVU's Morgantown campus Dec. 10.

"West Virginia University is where my journey as a university president began more than three decades ago, so it has always had a special meaning for me," Gee said in a news release. "When I was 36, this great land-grant institution gave me an extraordinary opportunity to serve as its president. Indeed, I understand the mission of land-grant institutions, and know the importance of WVU to the state and the university community. I am delighted now to be able to come back – and give back – to the West Virginia University community while also continuing my commitments to Ohio State, as well as higher education in Ohio and nationally."

Gee will continue to serve on Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Quality and Value Initiative.

On Dec. 5, the West Virginia Board of Governors met in its fourth emergency meeting within a month to discuss the school's next president.

The BOG reached a decision on the interim leader for the university during the Dec. 5 meeting, but did not reveal the name. The interim president will not be eligible for the permanent position, but will serve as an adviser to the search committee, which was formed by the BOG Jan. 6.

The BOG set a June 5, 2014 deadline for the Higher Education Policy Commission to give its final approval for the school's 24th president.

The BOG plan calls for a national posting for the next president to be published Jan. 10, with any applications or nominations due Feb. 21. The plan also includes allowing the committee's top candidates to visit Morgantown for on-campus interviews beginning April 26.

Clements said in a news release Gee is a  "seasoned higher education leader who knows West Virginia well and is very passionate about WVU and our land-grant mission.

"He brings a wealth of experience that will help him continue the very positive trajectory the university is on," Clements said. "WVU is a great place with a solid strategic plan, outstanding faculty, staff and students, a great administrative team, passionate alumni and a supportive Board, and I am convinced that the momentum will continue."

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