MARTINSBURG - While plans to select a new West Virginia University president are moving ahead, Board of Governors Chairman James Dailey II has no doubt that the state's largest higher education facility is in "extraordinarily good hands" with the return of E. Gordon Gee until a new leader is chosen.
Dailey, a Martinsburg resident and business owner, accompanied Gee on Tuesday as he made several local stops- meeting with officials at University Healthcare as well as the WVU Extension Service, before also touring the new Spring Mills High School.
While the 20-member search committee has met once, a Feb. 21 deadline to accept resumes from interested candidates will most likely have to be extended, Dailey said.
"That date is probably going to have to slip because the procurement office was to receive, by last Thursday, proposal requests from search firms. And from that, a short list of search firms would be created to be given to the board of governors for review. We'll then review it and give it back to the procurement office, for them to go back to get a best and final offer from the ones we like," he said.
"But I haven't even been given a list of how many search firms submitted a request for proposal last week. So until they forward something to us, we are at a standstill," Dailey said.
Gee, 69, served as WVU's president from 1981-1985. Prior to that, he was dean of the WVU College of Law from 1979-1981. He resigned as president of Ohio State University last year and assumed his current duties effective Dec. 31, but is not eligible for the permanent position.
He replaced James Clements, who announced in November that he was leaving to become president at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Clements had been at WVU since 2009 and enjoyed success on a number of fronts that university officials are eager to see addressed by his permanent successor.
In the meantime, however, Gee has more than met expectations, according to Dailey, who said he knew early on this was the right choice.
Recalling his first telephone conversation with Gee, Dailey said he was "totally excited and enthusiastic" about returning to Morgantown.
"It's been a marvelous marriage. And in my travels around the state, I've not yet met an individual who hasn't praised him or his selection. People are actually giddy-headed about him," Dailey said.
"And he's a man who has not only amazed me from day one, but also continues to amaze me," he said.
Gee had special praise for the Eastern Panhandle and the role its growing population can play in WVU - as well as the state's - success.
While WVU's roots as a land-grant institution are still important, it's also necessary to move in new directions such as community building, outreach and engagement, he said.
Gee continued his state travels Wednesday when he visited the southern coalfield communities.