West Virginia

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West Virginia

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:18 pm

The Charleston Daily Mail wrote:Former president still welcome to speak at WVU

Justin D. Anderson
Daily Mail Staff

Tuesday October 03, 2006

West Virginia University officials say they welcome Vanderbilt University chancellor and former WVU president E. Gordon Gee to the Morgantown campus to give a lecture, despite revelations in a national newspaper last week.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 26 that trustees at the private Tennessee university Gee has headed for the last six years have created a subcommittee just to monitor his lavish spending of the school's money on parties and a personal chef at the university-owned Greek mansion where Gee and his wife live.

Then there's the report that Gee's wife, Constance, smokes marijuana in the mansion, which underwent a $6 million renovation for the Gees, the Journal reported. Gee said the marijuana was for an inner-ear ailment.

Edward Mallory, a member of the university's board of trustees, told the Journal the board's past supervision of Gee had been "loosey-goosey."

The 62-year-old Gee is scheduled to speak at the WVU College of Law today as part of the Edward G. Donley Memorial Lecture series.

The university is paying Gee a $2,000 honorarium. His travel and accommodation expenses are being paid out of a trust set up by heirs of the late Donley, a Morgantown lawyer, and administered by the WVU Foundation.

John Fisher, dean of the law school, said he extended the invitation to Gee about a year and a half ago.

Fisher said he knows Gee personally.

Fisher waved off the facts raised in the article -- such as Gee's $1.4 million salary and $700,000 annual bill on parties.

"I have absolutely no idea about that part of the situation," Fisher said. "I do know that Gordon works extremely hard on behalf of any institution and I do know he has been extremely successful in raising significant funds at any institution he presides over."

Fisher said the reported $6 million in renovation to the Vanderbilt mansion where Gee lives, Braeburn, and the parties were important to Gee's success as a fundraiser there.

"He views the use of the president's house as the essential part of fundraising," Fisher said.

Stephen Goodwin, chairman of the WVU Board of Governors and a Charleston lawyer, wasn't too concerned about the Journal's report, either. He knows Gee very well, too.

"I thought the article was kind of a mixed bag," Goodwin said. "While there were some significant allegations . . . there also was a general consensus that no one wanted him to leave. It seemed to cut both ways.

"I certainly have no problem with Gordon being there."

Goodwin recalled Gee as being a good president at WVU from 1981 to 1985.

"From all accounts, he was a pretty successful president at just about every university where he's been," he said.

Gee also has presided over Brown University, the University of Colorado and Ohio State University.

Becky Lofstead, a WVU spokeswoman, said the issues raised in the Journal's article are for Vanderbilt and Gee to deal with, not WVU.

"I think he's answered those questions that have been put to him," Lofstead said. "I don't think it's WVU's job to answer for him."

Gee was expected to deliver an hour-long lecture this morning called "The Professional School within the University."

Contact writer Justin D. Anderson at 348-4843.

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