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Vanderbilt Creates Website to Defend Gordon Gee

University Business, Nov 2006

A comprehensive spending review, conducted by Vanderbilt University (Tenn.) and the media, revealed some interesting facts: renowned Chancellor Gordon Gee, 62, earns close to $1.4 million annually; he has spent as much as $700,000 more on parties and a personal chef at his university mansion; the aforementioned mansion, Braeburn, has been renovated to the tune of $6 million since he was hired in 2000; and Gee's wife Constance has reportedly smoked marijuana at the campus residence.

By any stretch, the basic facts raise some eyebrows. The Wall Street Journal covered Gee and a governance review's findings in a feature story about new spending scrutiny in higher education. While Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld is quick to squelch any suggestion of controversy, noting that the university's board is supportive of Gee, it is worth adding that Vanderbilt saw fit to immediately address the Wall Street article with a special website posted at Like many universities, Vanderbilt owns a residence that is used for entertaining, explains a passage on the website. Not only must the house be kept in order, but it must be stately enough to be host to the 20,000 or so people that the Gees entertain there annually.

The very last item on the website addresses Constance Gee and the marijuana use, which has been reportedly used for an inner-ear ailment. Four short lines say that the university will not comment on a personal matter and that "policies and procedures" were followed.

Gee is one of the most recognized figures in higher education. Although he is currently the leader at this prestigious southern-based university, where he has raised more than $1 billion, he has led a total of five universities.

He first became president of West Virginia University when he was just 37 years old. He then moved on to the University of Colorado, The Ohio State University, and Brown. -J.M.A.

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