Meet The Man Behind The Bow Tie, Gordon Gee

University President E. Gordon Gee is far from the average university president. He is memorable to West Virginia University’s students by his signature bow tie collection and jovial attitude. But, he is also memorable through his undying passion for the university and his love for the students. President Gee personally reaches out to students on campus and makes sure to spend time with students despite his jam-packed schedule. He is deeply proud to be a mountaineer and sets an example of what it is like to successfully run a state university. I spoke with my good friend, President Gee, and asked him to reflect on his time as the university’s president.

Mel Smith: How has being the president of WVU changed your life?

Gordan Gee: West Virginia University gave me the opportunity at age 36 to become a university president. That was an extraordinarily bold move on the part of the university to put such a young person in charge of a great institution. Subsequently, of course, I have had the pleasure of being a president now for precisely half of my life. But, it was West Virginia University that provided me the opportunity for which I will be forever grateful.

MS: What do you like most about being the university president?

GG: What I like most is the people part of the opportunity. I get to be surrounded by fabulous students, wonderful faculty, and obviously, a very caring and committed staff. With the students, they keep me young. With the faculty, they keep me intellectually alive and stimulated. And with the staff, they allow me to do my work in the most effective way possible.

MS: Did you expect to come back here once more?

GG: The answer is that I was an accidental president during my first term due to my age, and I am now an accidental president again. I had no expectation that I would return. But I suspect that is the reason that I am so grateful to be here.

MS: How has your term now differed from the first term you served as the university president?

GG: The University has changed dramatically. We have moved to the front ranks of American universities and so therefore the complexity and challenges of the institution are greater. But, the one thing that has not changed, it has always been a people serving institution. And it is an institution that believes deeply in its responsibility to 1.8 million West Virginians.

MS: What is your favorite thing about Morgantown?

GG: I love college towns. I think my favorite thing about Morgantown is the fact the university and the city are totally intertwined. There is no level of unbound tension. Of course, there are disagreements, but they are all done on the basis of what is best for the community and the university at the same time.