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Gee, 69, said in a statement he decided during a vacation last week that he would step down July 1.
"During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection," Gee said. "And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to re-energize and refocus myself."
Gee's permanent campaign mode is an acknowledgment of the power and responsibility of today's higher-ed leaders. He doesn't shy from tasks on par with those of Ohio's big-city mayors, members of Congress, even the governor. "Being president of a major public university is the most political nonpolitical office around," he says. "We're campaigning on behalf of our mission." Gee's power is evident in his $4.35 billion budget — bigger, he notes, than the budget of the state of Delaware — and the outsize role his institution plays in the state's economy. Gee presides over some 40,000 employees, one of the state's largest and best hospitals, a major hive of research, a small-business incubator, a hugely popular sports-entertainment empire, a large portfolio of real estate (including a small city's worth of housing units) and a network of extension operations reaching into nearly every community in the state. In bad times, the university is a significant economic bright spot.