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Sources say former president Gee to head WVU on interim basis

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former President E. Gordon Gee has been tagged by West Virginia University's Board of Governors to take over as interim president in January, sources told the Daily Mail.

Known for his extensive bowtie collection and once rated by Time magazine as one of the Top 10 college presidents in the nation, Gee was WVU president from 1981 to 1985 and has headed several other universities since.

Most recently he was president at Ohio State University where he elicited controversy by making jokes about Roman Catholics at Notre Dame University.

The Board of Governors agreed on interim leadership for the university at an emergency board meeting Thursday. The choice won't be made official until today, when it is taken to the state Higher Education Policy Commission for approval.

The interim president will take office in January, when President Jim Clements is slated to leave WVU. The interim will live in the president's residence at the Blaney House and otherwise take on the president's role until a permanent replacement is selected. 

"We are absolutely thrilled with our selection to lead the state's flagship, Land-grant University during an important time in our history," Board chairman James Dailey said in a statement after Thursday's meeting.

"This individual is uniquely qualified to move WVU forward and continue the momentum we are enjoying. We are anxious for our new president to arrive in the new year, and hope that folks will get a chance to say `hello and welcome' very soon."

No WVU official publicly identified Gee as the selection. A source with knowledge of the selection process who asked not to be identified told the Daily Mail it is Gee, however.

The Higher Education Policy Commission will also be asked to approve the board's proposed plan to search for a permanent replacement for Clements. The board agreed on the parameters of the search and the interim leader Thursday, after a two-hour closed session -- the last of four lengthy closed meetings the board has held since Nov. 11, when Clements announced his plans to leave WVU for Clemson University.

Dailey described the board's work in choosing the interim president as "spirited conversation and certainly thoughtful process."

The plan outlines a timeline for the search and selection process: the board plans to seek approval from the policy commission for its choice on or about June 5, 2014. It will distribute an announcement stating the position's availability by Jan. 10 and close the deadline for applications by Feb. 21.

On campus interviews with finalists will happen in late April.

"It is essential that the search procedure for the permanent president ... be swift, effective, and thorough," the board writes in its proposal to the commission.

A search firm will "likely be utilized" to assist in the search, but the "precise scope of services have yet to be determined," the proposal reads.

The presidential search committee will be appointed by Jan. 6, and will be composed of individuals from a cross-section of WVU constituencies: representatives will come from faculty, staff, students, administrators, the WVU Foundation, Alumni Association and the school's divisional campuses.

Dailey will head the search committee, but he won't have voting privileges.

The interim president will serve as an adviser to the search committee.

Writer Mike Casazza contributed to this report.

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886.


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