Golly Gee, That’s A Lot Of Bow Ties

gee neckties

Ivy Style’s Facebook group has been lively lately, so if you can’t get enough discussion of sartorial (and cultural) matters with your natural-shouldered brothers, then come over and join us.

Recently a reader dug up this photo of the massive bow tie collection of E. Gordon Gee, currently the president of West Virginia University. Perform a Google Image search on him and you’ll find that he nearly always wears a beaming smile and must be a very charismatic fellow. He also wears tortoiseshell glasses and functional watches:

FILE - In this June 7, 2013, file photo, former Ohio State University president Gordon Gee gives his retirement speech during a board of trustees meeting in Columbus, Ohio. A study by The Chronicle of Higher Education says the number of public college presidents earning over $1 million more than doubled in the 2012-2013 fiscal year from the year before. Gee topped the list, earning $6.1 million as the head of Ohio State University. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

But all those ties don’t come cheap, and Gee has been hounded by financial scandals. Here’s a report surrounding his previous employment as the president of Ohio State. Reports the Dayton Daily News:

Since returning to Columbus as the university’s president in October 2007, the 68-year-old Gee has pulled in $8.6 million in salary and compensation, making him the highest paid CEO of a public university in the country.

But his expenses — hidden among hard-to-get records that the university took nearly a year to release — tally nearly as much: $7.7 million.

Gee’s spending is kept out of the public eye because it can be tallied only by examining multiple reports, including the quarterly discretionary expense reports delivered to the trustees and not easily obtainable by others. The Daily News first requested records documenting Gee’s work day, housing, American Express statements, travel expenses, discretionary spending reports and other data in September 2011. The university did not fully respond to the request until August 2012.

Those records show Gee stays in luxury hotels, dines at country clubs and swank restaurants, throws lavish parties, flies on private jets and hands out thousands of gifts — all at public expense.

The Daily News investigation found the university spent more than $895,000 for gatherings at the Pizzuti House, the president’s mansion, between April 2008 and June 2011. That works out to be about $23,000 a month — a little less than the average cost of a wedding.

The university spends tens of thousands of dollars alone branding Gee around his signature bow ties. Since 2007, Ohio State has spent more than $64,000 on bow ties, bow tie cookies and O-H and bow tie pins for Gee and others to distribute, the newspaper found.


Gee also helmed Brown for two years amid much controversy. From Wikipedia:

Gee was president of Brown for only two years, and his tenure was mired in controversy. According to The Village Voice and The College Hill Independent, one of the university’s campus newspapers, Gee was criticized by students and faculty for treating the school like a Wall Street corporation rather than an Ivy League university.

Critics pointed to his decisions to sign off on an ambitious brain science program without consulting the faculty, to sell $80 million in bonds for the construction of a biomedical sciences building, and to cut the university’s extremely popular Charleston String Quartet, which many saw as part of Gee’s effort to lead the school away from its close but unprofitable relationship with the arts. Gee and his wife were also blamed for an extravagant renovation of the president’s residence, which reportedly cost several million dollars.

Gee left under a storm of criticism in 2000, as members of the Brown community widely accused him of departing from the school after an uncommonly short tenure because of Vanderbilt University’s offer of a corporate-level salary and a tenured teaching position for his wife. According to a 2003 article by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Gee was the second highest paid university chief executive in the country with a purported total compensation package of more than $1.3 million.

Gee’s tumultuous tenure at Brown is commemorated annually with the “E. Gordon Gee Lavatory Complex,” a collection of portable toilets that appears during Spring Weekend.

Some people say never trust a man in a bow tie. Of course, some say the same about a man with a beard.

And if you’ve got $64,000 to spend on bow ties, whether from public or private funds, visit our longtime sponsor bowties.com. — CC

10 Comments on "Golly Gee, That’s A Lot Of Bow Ties"

  1. Isn’t WVU the school that gave Senator Manchin’s daughter, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, the fake MBA?

    Gee had nothing to do with that though. Gee’s bow ties are cool, but the stories prove that higher ed, like most public schools is about legalised graph not the “children”. With all the unpayable government student loans flowing in to these institutions who can blame them.

  2. Seems that “ivory towers” make pretty good observation posts for tracking herds of free-range dollars.

  3. I have two things to say:

    1.) I am a regular bow tie wearer (I have one on nine days out of ten); and although that’s an impressive collection, I don’t imagine that I’d ever wear even 1/5 of those ties pictured. I’ve found that I prefer to have a small selection around which I regularly rotate. Less decision making is better.

    2.) I work at an independent boarding school (one that receives no federal or state money). In addition to teaching, I also work as a fundraiser for the school in the alumnae office. I can tell you that most of the expenses that these various newspapers cite as “extravagant” and “luxurious” are, in actuality, directly tied to fundraising expenses. All of those parties? Those are thrown for top donors as a way to draw them even closer to the university, and garner more donations. Travel on the private jet? These are visits to those very same donors to cultivate a relationship, and later, to solicit them for money. I don’t know about Brown, but I can say with certainty that he brought in about five times as much money for Ohio State as what he spent. That’s a pretty good return if you ask me.

    It’s important to remember that the primary job of the president or chancellor at any college or university in today’s day and age is to be a fundraiser. Most people in the top job report that they spend 50% or more of their time trying to secure donations for their school.

    As an aside: I find the frequent profiling by the media on university presidents’ and chancellors’ “exorbitant” salaries interesting; especially in light of the fact that, at most schools with Division 1 football and basketball programs, the head coaches and athletic directors are making far more money. The fact that we rarely, if ever, see news profiles about these athletic salaries is truly baffling to me.

  4. RWK, I can assure you that even though it’s not national news, on most campuses there are plenty of people who will point to the disparity of pay between regular faculty and coaches. Especially true if the basketball or football teams aren’t winning. I know when I was in undergrad, the student newspaper was full of student and faculty commentary like “the team only won 3 games this year….that means the coach was paid $145,000 per win” or “how come we don’t spend that money on my research program.”

    And the same argument you make about fundraising (and associated spending) for university presidents is true for athletics; it’s what brings alumni back to campus, keeps them in touch with their classmates, and often allows for 3-hour long nationally televised “commercials” (games) during the school year.

  5. University of West Virginia, is “West Virginia University.” Thanks in advance for the correction.

    Gordon is certainly keeping the traditional style alive of our grandfathers in places like Ohio, West Virginia and down in Vanderbilt. There are still good pockets of the old way of dress, and glad to see it is alive at public and private schools in the Midwest.

    Playboy’s historic #1 party school with a strong trad style.

  6. I’ve never understood collections. But, the world takes all kinds, I suppose. As one commanding general once told me — with lasting effect, too — “George, the garbage can is your friend.” Got it, sir.

  7. RWK ’87
    In almost all private and public Div I schools the coaches get paid comparatively little from the actual schools’ budgets. The coaches high salaries are paid through school’s’ private athletic associations or corporations, athletic boosters if you will.

  8. These big, butterfly bows make him look like Bozo. They’re ridiculous and he can’t pull it off.

  9. I too have a lot of bow ties, the medium butterfly, not the clown large. I began to wear them a lot when the Brooks OCBD lost the roll in the late 70s, early 80s.

    I wonder what type hanger is under these. Hard to find.

  10. He is an overpaid nut-job….

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