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Gee’s contract official; WVU president will make $775K

By Mackenzie Mays, Staff writer

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee’s contract went into effect this week, with his collective salary totaling $775,000.

Gee’s state-funded base salary is $650,000, with an additional $125,000 coming from the WVU Foundation each year, according to his contract.

The salary agreement is a pay cut for Gee, who was the highest-paid public college president in the United States last year when he oversaw Ohio State University. At OSU, Gee made a base pay of about $850,000, but received more than $6 million in total compensation from the school in 2013.

Despite the pay cut, Gee is still considered among the highest-paid public college presidents in the country, especially when it comes to base pay, according to a recent report from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gee, 70, also served as WVU’s president in the 1980s, and has been OSU’s president twice, as well as leading Brown University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Colorado. In his latest term at WVU, he replaced James Clements, who left in December for Clemson University.

Gee was interim WVU president and initially voiced no intentions of a permanent job there, citing several national education commitments. His contract will allow for him to carry on those duties, which include partnerships with Harvard University and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The board recognizes that you will continue to serve on several national level higher education related projects which were initiated prior to becoming president, and specifically approves of your continued service on such projects -- all of which inure to the benefit of higher education in our country, as well as to the benefit of WVU and the state of West Virginia,” the contract reads.

Gee’s salary is the same as Clements’ when he left WVU last year, but Clements made $450,000 when he first signed on in 2009. Gee’s contract also allows for annual raises.

The contract awards Gee tenure at the WVU College of Law, where he once served as dean, and also provides for health and life insurance coverage plus $5,000 in annual medical exams; on-campus housing and a vehicle and travel expenses.

Gee is in the midst of a statewide tour of West Virginia and has so far visited 31 of the state’s 55 counties.

Last week, he sent an email to students and members of the “WVU family” detailing his intentions.

“The message I am bringing in each community is that West Virginians are important to the vitality of our institution. And in turn, our institution — a research, land-grant university — is important to the vitality of West Virginians,” Gee said in the email. “Therefore, it is incredibly important for us to weave a common gold-and-blue thread from Weirton to Welch and all points between. By connecting with our neighbors in the corner coffee shops, the public schools, the fairs and festivals, and the small-town Chambers of Commerce, we can make the connections between the university and West Virginians a reality.

Gee’s contract, which was signed by WVU Board of Governors Chairman Jim Dailey on Friday and went into effect on Monday, runs through June 2016.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or at 304-348-4814.


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