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COLUMBUS — Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.
Gee stepped down at Ohio State last year and agreed to a deal worth $5.8 million over five years, including an annual salary of $410,000 and a $300,000 annual grant for research and other expenses as he retained tenure as a professor in the law college.
Ohio State spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email today that the school anticipates saving about $4 million because its obligation to meet some of the terms of Gee’s deal ends when he begins his permanent role at West Virginia, where he has been serving as interim president for months.
Gee will remain on an unpaid leave of absence until then, and his employment with Ohio State ends July 1, according to a letter that was sent to Gee last month by the university’s general counsel and was released today by the school.
“I am confident that West Virginia University will be positioned for great success in the future under your leadership,” wrote Christopher Culley, the general counsel.
The letter indicated Gee plans to fulfill the rest of his pledge to provide $1 million to Ohio State, part of which may support the Center for Higher Education Enterprise that he helped create. He will be considered a senior fellow with the center, and he gets to keep his title of president emeritus.
His departure doesn’t affect an $800,000 payment that Ohio State made to a retirement plan for Gee’s benefit, according to the letter. His deal also still provides lifetime health insurance benefits if he’s not receiving similar benefits through employment elsewhere.
Gee retired from his second stint as Ohio State president last summer after receiving criticism for remarks he made earlier jabbing Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools. He has apologized for the remarks.
He was one of the country’s highest-paid college presidents, with total compensation of about $2 million a year. WVU, where Gee was president from 1981 to 1985, is not expected to match that salary.