Ohio State president to retire in wake of verbal gaffes

President Barack Obama is introduced by Ohio State University President Gordon Gee during commencement on May 5.

Story highlights

  • CNN affiliate says Gee was told in March to be careful with his remarks
  • E. Gordon Gee says he has planted seeds that should grow
  • He made controversial remarks about other schools, Catholics
  • His retirement takes effect July 1, the school says
Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, who came under fire after controversial remarks about other colleges, has announced plans to retire, school representative Gayle Saunders said Tuesday afternoon.
Gee said he recently returned from a family vacation that included time for self-reflection.
"And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to re-energize and refocus myself," he said in a written statement.
According to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, Gee apologized last week to top officials at schools in the Big Ten Conference and others. Gee reportedly made disparaging remarks during a December meeting with the Ohio State Athletics Council.
Gee referred to "those damn Catholics" at Notre Dame and joked that Louisville didn't have the academic integrity to join the Big Ten.
He also cast aspersion on some schools in the Southeastern Conference, the paper reported.
CNN affiliate WBNS reported that in March the university's board of trustees sent Gee a letter that outlined corrective steps in the wake of the remarks and that he could be fired if there were any more gaffes.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the school's board of trustees said Gee has transformed the school.
"His service to Ohio State has been superb. This man has been an inspiration to many people, including me, and we all are forever grateful for his friendship. His thoughtful and unique leadership style has taken the University to new levels," said Robert H. Schottenstein.
Gee has twice led the university, which has 63,000 students -- from 1990 to 1997, and from 2007 until now. His retirement takes effect July 1.
Joseph A. Alutto, an executive vice president, will take over as interim president.