The Buckeye Show

Remembering Dr. Gee

Posted by Alicia Barnhart June 7, 2013
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In the wake of E. Gordon Gee's inappropriate comments (aka jokes) surfacing and his retirement announcement there have been a slew of articles by national pundits chastising Ohio State’s president, some even going far enough to paint him a villain of sorts.

I could go on a long tangent and tell those offended- lighten the heck up! But I’d rather spend time highlighting the good Dr. Gee did while President of The Ohio State University, not at the national or business level, but the personal level. He was a man of the people and made them his priority. Gee was a regular at campus parties, athletic events, and student activities. You could send him an email and he would respond back. If you went to Ohio State there’s a good chance you have a picture with him.

The following is a compilation of stories and ways Gee has gone out of his way to make me and others feel like valued members of Ohio State’s incredibly large and diverse global community. As a somewhat socially awkward person prone to telling bad jokes myself, I am inspired by Dr. Gee, not because he gives me hope that I could someday run a major university (which hey would be pretty sweet), but that I could have such a positive and lasting effect on so many people.

Dr. Gee Calls Parents

Alicia Barnhart

A couple of years ago my younger sister Alex, a freshman at Ohio State ran into Dr. Gee while at a house party. Even though it was fairly late, she insisted he call our mom and wish her a happy birthday. Dr. Gee complied and called my mom from my sister’s phone, wishing her a very happy birthday and even apologizing for waking her up.

That was in October. My sister emailed Dr. Gee the following January reminding him of that night and asking if he could do the same for our dad, an OSU alum as well. Dr. Gee responded that he would, not knowing what he was getting himself into. My dad didn’t have a cell phone and keeps the worst hours, which makes getting a hold of him difficult. Dr. Gee called the house countless times before he could finally reach him. My mom couldn’t believe his commitment to such a simple request, we are so grateful!

Dr. Gee Completes a Costume

Caller Tom

A caller to my show, Tom called in with a great Dr. Gee story that he had heard through a friend. Another OSU student wanted to dress up as Gee for Halloween, but wanted to make sure it was ok with the President. He went to his office to ask permission, which of course Gee gladly granted and took a step further. He let him borrow one of his iconic bow ties, as long as he brought it back the next day. Sure that garnered a best costume award.

Dr. Gee Greets Graduates

Jared Maurer (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

I was dead last in a long, long line of graduates getting their picture taken with Dr. Gee. And he was just as friendly and upbeat as if I was the only graduate he was meeting that day. What a guy.

Dr. Gee Remembers Small Conversations

Patrick West (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

Dr. Gee's commitment to ensuring that all of us felt that Ohio State was home and all Buckeyes were family is what stood out to me the most. The first time I met him was during the Student Involvement Fair during my senior year. We spoke a bit about to organization I represented. On that day I was wearing a ridiculous hat as part of marketing for the booth. 9 months later at the African American Graduation, he came by to say congrats to the graduates. He walked the line, talked to all of us. When he spoke to me, we talked about my time at OSU and midway through our conversation he stopped and said "I remember you, we met during the involvement fair in the fall. You were the one in the crazy hat." I was absolutely floored that he remembered a 5 minute chat from 9 months prior. At that point, it was clear to me that Dr. Gee was more than just the custodian of our Alma Mater, he was one of us and he considered each us like family. For that point alone, Dr. Gee will always have my support.

Dr. Gee Plans an Engagement

Chris Winebar (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

In the winter of 2008 I was trying to plan out the best way for me to propose to my then longtime girlfriend and fellow OSU grad, Robin Elwell. I needed a special moment for the most important day of my life up to that point. I wanted Carmen Ohio played on the bell tower at the Oval. "How could I possibly get that done?" I asked. I emailed Dr. Gee and pled for help. A few days later I received a reply from him personally. He got me in touch with the head of facilities to schedule the playing of Carmen Ohio on a Sunday morning in January 2008. With the help of friends, family, and especially Dr. Gee I lured Robin to the Oval and asked for her to spend the rest of her life with me as Carmen Ohio played around us. I and all other OSU grads know how important Dr. Gee was and is to the The Ohio State University. Thanks Gordon for all your years of dedicated service to The Ohio State Community. You will be missed.

Dr. Gee Is Best at Being Himself

Matt Johnson (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

I remember being in DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear,) and that night went to an OSU bar to watch the football team destroy Minnesota. It also happened to be Halloween weekend, so people were out dressed in costumes. After the game (and some imbibing and revelry,) in walks what I believe to be an amazing Gordon Gee costume. I apparently was discussing it quite loudly, because moments later he walks up to me and says, "I hate to disappoint you, but I'm the real Gordon Gee. Nice to meet you."

Dr. Gee Welcomes New Students

Katie Tignor (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

Dr. Gee came into Morrill Tower on move in day and took pictures with students and gave out bow tie cookies. I was lucky to meet such an amazing person. I was so excited to get a cookie that I didn't eat it, nope I displayed it on my desk shelf. Happy retirement Dr. Gee!

Dr. Gee Gives Campus Tours

Emily Chappie (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

Dr. Gee,

I'll never forget the weekend you took my roommates and I around campus, the great advice you shared with us over dinner, and the lasting impression "to always be sincere, be different, and conquer challenge."

I appreciate that you always responded to emails, and no person was ever "too little" in your mind. I will always cherish the opportunity to have been educated under your leadership & I know I'm a better citizen because of it.

You mean a lot to the entire Chappie Family!

Much love and appreciation, Emily

Dr. Gee Thanks Cancer Fundraisers

Coleen Barber (taken from Facebook group Thank You Dr. Gee)

Loved that he would stand in the middle of the starting line at Pelotonia while personally thanking each rider before they started their journey.

Those are just a few stories on how Dr. Gee has made his way into our hearts. Call us Buckeyes blind, loyal, and misguided, but I’d like to see another large university form a list of personal stories about their President. In the words of a silly 90s song about President Gee (which I know all the words by heart)- “Gordon Gee and that awesome bow tie, Ohio needs you badly, you’re a special Buckeye! Glad you’re here at OSU, you’re our greatest fan, O GORDON, YOU’RE OUR MAN!”

For more stories and pictures of OSU students and alums with Dr. Gee, visit Thank You Dr. Gee!