Don’t count the local Little Sisters of the Poor's nursing home among those who wanted Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee ousted.
Sister Cecilia Mary Sartorius, superior-president of the order’s Sacred Heart Home in Oregon, said in a statement Wednesday she had long forgiven Mr. Gee for a quip he made in 2011, when he said the Buckeyes face some of the nation’s toughest football teams and “do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
The Little Sisters order in the Toledo area was as surprised as anyone by Mr. Gee’s impromptu announcement this week that he would retire July 1, Sister Sartorius said.
“We fondly remember his visit to our home in August 2011, when he brought a whole bus full of OSU students here for a visit to the Sacred Heart Home," Sister Sartorius said. "The OSU students and President Gee brought a lot of joy to our elderly residents and he publicly apologized for his statement about the Little Sisters of the Poor, which I accepted and forgave him for."
Later that same fall, she said, a number of residents and Sisters from the Toledo-area nursing home were his guests at an OSU football game, which she described as a "unique treat."
“His tenure as the longest-serving university president in our nation is something he should be proud of. He has helped make it possible for a great many youth in our country to be well educated at the many colleges and universities he served at as president,” the statement said.
The Oregon nursing home, established in 1885, is one of 30 affiliated with the Little Sisters of the Poor religious order, which focuses on caring for elderly who live in poverty.
Mr. Gee’s tongue-in-cheek remark is one of several in recent years which thrust him into the national spotlight.
Their number and frequency became a sore spot among some OSU trustees who questioned if he had crossed a line of academic etiquette.
Mr. Gee said this week he would not apologize for being outspoken and “quirky as hell.”
Mr. Gee, 69, was named America’s best college president in 2010 by Time magazine. He was OSU president from 1990 to 1997, and returned in 2007. He also has held the top jobs at Western Virginia University, the University of Colorado, Brown University, and Vanderbilt University.
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