Retiring Ohio State University chief draws praise

Tuesday , June 04, 2013 - 5:29 PM

The Associated Press

Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is retiring after coming under fire for mocking Notre Dame and Catholics and poking fun at the academic quality of other schools. Some reaction:

“He’s taken Ohio State to new heights, and I think he’s done an outstanding job and consider him to be one of my best friends. ... He’s got all the respect in the world for the Catholic Church and for the clergy.” — George Voinovich, a Catholic and former Ohio governor, whom Gee once dubbed a “dummy” during a moment of frustration over higher-education funding.

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“It was truly an honor to work with such a great president at a great university. Ellen and I send him all good wishes for the future.” — Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, in a statement released by the University of Akron, where Tressel is now vice president of strategic engagement.

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“President E. Gordon Gee is a great friend and mentor, who was an inspiration to me through both his tenures as president of The Ohio State University. ... Each day he worked on behalf of the students, faculty, and community to make Ohio State one of the most revered public institutions in the country. No idea was too big nor task too small for Gordon to immerse himself in when it came to the university’s work.” — U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus.

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Gee has been “a tremendous partner in transforming Ohio’s fragmented higher education system into one better focused on fueling Ohio’s economic recovery and helping students meet their goals.” — Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

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“I just don’t know why people would denigrate others for no rhyme or reason. Here, we’re trying to do things the right way academically and scholastically, and to open your mouth and stick your foot in it, to try and get laughs at the expense of others who are trying to do things the right way, is bizarre to me.” — Louisville coach Rick Pitino, hours before Gee’s retirement announcement.

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“This is just so upsetting. He just represents everything great about college life. Like, everything you would want to receive from a university experience, Gordon Gee has made sure that that was available.” — Allison Roda, 22, a fifth year senior from Broadview Heights.

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“Few leaders in the past 25 years have had such a profound impact on American higher education as E. Gordon Gee. He is an iconic leader, unparalleled in skills and widely respected among presidents, chancellors, policymakers and business leaders at both the state and federal levels. He has left an indelible mark on each institution he has served, and during two tenures spanning 13 years exceeded every measure at The Ohio State University.” — Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, in a statement.

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“I’ve always loved this campus because we tend to be very tolerant of different people and I’ve loved meeting people from all over the world, so it disheartened me. I know he was trying to be funny but, like he said, there are some things that shouldn’t be said.” — Kathy DeGray, who has worked 32 years for the university library system, about Gee’s remarks.

Associated Press writers Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland; Julie Carr Smyth and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; and Gary Graves in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.

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