Gordon Gee

Why Bow Ties Matter to WVU President Gordon Gee

It’s a well known fact that West Virginia University President Gordon Gee is a bow tie enthusiast. In fact, WVU men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins has worn them in honor of his boss.  In recognition of this endearing quirk, the WVU University Relations/News Department released a video today about this neckwear obsession titled “The bow tie behind the man: WVU President Gordon Gee shows off his collection.”

During this video, Gee shows off his current collection of around 1,000 bow ties. These are in addition to another collection of retired ones. He says that he makes quilts of his old ones to give to his grandkids or to hang in his office.

Gee also relates how he tried to wear long ties when he first was an university president after faculty pestered him about his bow ties. However, he grew miserable and switched back to his preferred neckwear. In addition to honoring his own style, there’s a workplace safety aspect to this choice. As an university president, Gee told the New York Times, “It’s much more difficult to be hung by the faculty with a bow tie than with a long tie.”

It is rather interesting to note that Gee strongly emphasized the importance of individuality during this video. He brings that up as one of the reasons why he didn’t want to feel like he had to conform to others’ perception of what he should dress like in his profession. Since embracing his individuality, he’s felt much happier and has enjoyed success as a long time higher education administrator serving as an associate dean at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University as well as serving as president at the University of Colorado, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, and Ohio State University (twice) in addition to his two WVU stints.

That’s why he tells students to also embrace what makes them unique — whether bow ties are involved or not. They can succeed while exhibiting their individuality.

He did reveal one other thing today. As a society, we’re missing something.