Retiring Ohio State's Gee did a lot for the university's endowment fund

Lynn Russo Whylly's picture

University presidents have the same characteristics as referees – you don’t know their names until they screw up. For much of the nation, that model fits precisely when it comes to Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee.

He’s recognizable for his bow tie and horn-rimmed glasses – an Orville Redenbacher look-a-like. But many only heard about Gee when he had a verbal gaffe. Unfortunate for Ohio State and Gee himself, who will retire July 1, is that he accomplished much during his two stints as the university’s president.

Few could speak, fundraise and inspire students and alumni like Gee. When he spoke, people listened. Oftentimes, they did so with checkbook in hand. In the past year, Ohio State topped the list when it came to growing endowments among the 50 largest university funding pools.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers reported that Ohio State’s long-term investment pool grew by $2.4 billion – 11.6 percent. Second most during the same span was Texas A&M’s 9.1 percent increase, while the rest of the schools had little movement or decreased.

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