MORGANTOWN - A committee tasked with searching for West Virginia University's next president didn't look far to find their choice, as members Friday endorsed interim President E. Gordon Gee for the post.
Along with the endorsement, the 20-member search committee called on the WVU Board of Governors to amend the presidential search procedures and rescind a motion that stated the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent post.
The board of governors, the search committee said, should take all necessary steps to retain Gee as WVU's permanent president.
Board Chairman James W. Dailey said an emergency board meeting will be called early next week. The Higher Education Policy Commission also will call an emergency meeting.
"Gordon Gee is absolutely, hands-down the very best person to be at the helm of West Virginia University at this important time and place in our history," said Dailey, who also chairs the presidential search committee. "I know we recruited him to serve until a permanent leader was in place and said the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent presidency, but the search committee had a change of heart.
"It is clear Gordon Gee has not been a placeholder president by any means; he has been an extraordinary high-energy leader who is getting things done, moving us forward and clearly has the support of our board, senior university leaders, faculty and staff, students, elected officials, higher education peers and opinion leaders. Countless people have urged us from day one to keep him."
Dailey said Gee's extensive higher education experience - he most recently served as president of Ohio State University - makes him an ideal fit for WVU.
"He is truly a perfect fit for this institution. His knowledge of and experience in higher education circles is unmatched - as is his national and international reputation," Dailey said.
Gee first served as WVU president from 1981-85. He was hired when he was just 36. He returned in January for a term to replace Jim Clements, who now is at Clemson University.
Following Friday's meeting, which he did not attend, Gee said, "I am honored, energized and humbled by the committee's recommendation today. My return to West Virginia has reminded me of the special spirit of this university and the unique role it plays in this state. I am also reminded of the warmth and friendship of the people of West Virginia which have been demonstrated over the past few months in full measure."