MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Incoming interim West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee said Tuesday his goal as the school's interim president is to continue working on what the university is already doing so the next president will have a smooth transition.
"My commitment is to continue this institutional momentum," he said Tuesday at a news conference at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown.
Gee, who was named interim president last week, was WVU's president from 1981 to 1985. He also has headed Ohio State University twice, as well as Brown University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Colorado.
He will take office Jan. 6, replacing Jim Clements, who is leaving Jan. 1 to become president of Clemson University, in South Carolina.
This summer, Gee retired as Ohio State's president after it was leaked that he denounced a number of universities during an OSU athletic council meeting and made offensive comments about Catholics.
Gee said Monday he is looking forward to working with faculty and students at WVU. He plans to listen to their concerns to see if there is anything he can do for them in the short term, he said.
"I strongly believe this generation has the ability to change the world," he said.
Gee said he has a lot of reading to catch up on, including the university's outline of its strategic plan. "I'm not coming to an institution that's broken. I'm coming to an institution that has a tremendous amount of momentum," he said.
He said he also wants to travel to all of the state's counties.
"Can't say that I'll make it to all 55," he said, "but I'm going to try."
Board of Governors Chairman James Dailey II said Gee is the right choice for WVU. Few candidates who interviewed for the position displayed as much knowledge and dedication for the role, Dailey said. Gee impressed BOG members during several telephone interviews before he was offered the job.