Gordon Gee’s travel as WVU president under scrutiny

E. Gordon Gee
E. Gordon Gee

Gee: ‘I’m a rainmaker’

E. Gordon Gee is under scrutiny at West Virginia University for spending more than $2-million on private jet travel — a practice that the Dayton Daily News detailed when he led Ohio State University.

Gee, who has been president of WVU since March 2014, spent more than $2.2 million between May 2014 and June 2017, including 31 trips to Columbus as well as treks to Hilton Head, S.C., and Florida with his fiancee, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. Most of the travel expenses were paid with tuition money, the university told the Gazette-Mail.

Gee justified the travel as a necessary expense for fundraising. The Gazette-Mail reported: "And that was all done by use of an airplane and other means," Gee said, adding later that, "my job is about making rain, and I'm a rainmaker."

Gee served as Ohio State president twice — 1990 to 1997 and 2007 to 2013. From Oct. 1, 2007, to June 30, 2012, his discretionary spending on travel, tailgating, special events, his residence and other operations totaled $7.77 million. The Dayton Daily News waited 11-months for Ohio State to fully comply with records requests for reports detailing his spending.

Related: How Ohio State University president’s expenses stack up

The records showed Gee stayed in luxury hotels, dined at country clubs and swank restaurants, threw lavish parties, flew on private jets and handed out thousands of gifts — all at public expense. While at Ohio State, Gee ranked as the highest-paid president of a public university.

Related: Gee’s travel bill tops $800K

Gee spent at least $844,000 on travel between 2007 and 2012 at Ohio State, including two trips to China and international travel to Iceland, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom. OSU funded the travel with unrestricted endowment money.

After the Dayton Daily News stories as well as publicized verbal gaffes by Gee, he announced in June 2013 that he would retire from Ohio State.

Related: Embattled Gee to retire

Ohio State, which has 33,000 employees, a payroll of more than $2 billion, a major sports operation and a vast medical complex, has been headed by Michael V. Drake since June 2014.

Related: New OSU leader ‘Mr. Inside’

Gee, now 74, has served as president of West Virginia University, University of Colorado, Ohio State, Brown University, and Vanderbilt University. His career track includes two times at both OSU and WVU.

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