CHARLESTON, WV -- E. Gordon Gee, WVU's temporary new president, will spend just months at the university this year, before stepping aside to make way for his replacement, the new permanent president.
But he balks at the thought of being a placeholder, and rejected the word "interim" in his new job title.
"I said, 'I don't want to be an interim because I don't want to act, I want to be,' " Gee said Thursday in a meeting with the Daily Mail's editorial board. "I want to give it every ounce of my commitment and my energy there."
The university's Board of Governors was happy to oblige him.
"We wanted him to be the president," said Jim Dailey, board president. "We wanted him to be active and on the ground with all the things that had to be done to make sure that we continue to proceed in the fashion we were directed."
Still, it's a short presidential term, and Gee said he's been working on setting priorities for his time at WVU.
He has three, he said: strengthen WVU's relationship with the state and lawmakers in Charleston, be present and engaged in the WVU and state community and, "take the opportunity to examine how the university can be more effective and efficient."
The issue, he says, is that American universities have two, sometimes competing, priorities: they must continually increase quality, even as they try to decrease and moderate costs. The trick is to do both at the same time — and Gee believes that when they can manage that, they're most successful in both areas.
He believes that, while a university's goal is obviously to educate, that also leads to another priority: job creation.