Ohio State president Gordon Gee announced Tuesday afternoon he will retire July 1, according to a report from Encarnacion Pyle of the Columbus Dispatch. The news comes amid controversial remarks that Gee admitted were a "poor attempt at humor" and said he made the decision to retire while on a recent vacation with his family:
"During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reigns of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself."
Gee, 67, has served as president of the school for two terms, one from 1990-97 and another from 2007 to the present, the latter span of which he is reported to have spent $64,000 on his signature bow-ties. He leaves his post of an annual salary of more than $2.1 million, making him the third highest paid university leader in the country as of last year.
In the mean time, while the schools looks to tap a new president, OSU’s former Provost Joseph A. Alutto, who acted as interim OSU president in 2007, will serve as Gee's replacement until the Ohio State board of trustees decides on a permanent hire.
News of his retirement comes one day after he announced he will be backing out of a commencement speech scheduled for Saturday at Catholic high school St. Francis DeSales. He has spent the last week offering his apology for remarks he made about Catholics, other universities and a rival athletic conference that he said were meant to be lighthearted. He specifically apologized to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors for comments he made during an Ohio State Athletics Council meeting in December in which he referred to "those damn Catholics," adding that priests at Notre Dame are holy on Sunday but “holy hell” the rest of the week. According to the report, he also suggested at the meeting that University of Louisville has poor academic integrity and students in the Southeastern Conference are illiterate.