WVU President E. Gordon Gee, 75, will miss the Dec. 21 commencement due to his hip replacement surgery on Thursday at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

“My major regret is that for the first time in 40 years, I will have to miss commencement,” Gee said in a university statement.“Commencement is fuel to my soul, but I will most definitely be there in spirit—and perhaps in video, as well.”

Gee said a recent diagnosis showed a deteriorating hip joint that needed to be replaced soon. This is Gee’s first hip surgery, according to the statement.

“While no one looks forward to surgery, I am looking forward to getting relief and being better than new,” Gee said. “I am incredibly grateful to the physicians who have identified the problem area and will equip me with a new hip that will have me running circles around everyone again soon.”