Gordon Gee, 2000-2007
One of the most experienced chief executives in higher education, Gordon Gee became the seventh chancellor of Vanderbilt University on July 31, 2000, succeeding Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt. Gee previously served as president of Brown University, The Ohio State University, University of Colorado and West Virginia University. He left Vanderbilt on August 1, 2007, to return to The Ohio State University as president.
A joint-degree recipient in law and education from Columbia University, Gee completed a federal judicial clerkship, after which he served as an assistant dean for the University of Utah College of Law. After holding this position, Gee served as a judicial fellow and senior staff assistant for U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. He then became associate dean and professor at J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University and next served as dean of law at West Virginia University. It was at West Virginia University that he made the transition from law school administrator to university president.
Gee carried out research on behalf of the Ford Foundation, the Guy Anderson Foundation and the American Bar Foundation, among others. He is the co-author of eight books and the author of numerous papers and articles in fields relating to both law and education. The recipient of a number of awards and honors, he was a Mellon Fellow for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies and a W.K. Kellogg Fellow.
Gee led the university's $1.25 billion capital campaign to a successful conclusion two years ahead of schedule and raised the goal to $1.75 billion, with an emphasis on endowed scholarships and faculty chairs. During his tenure, the university's endowment grew by almost 50 percent, to more than $3 billion.
Gee renewed Vanderbilt's commitment to being one of a small number of private universities that admit applicants regardless of their ability to pay and that meet the full demonstrated financial need of all students so that a Vanderbilt education is affordable to all. During his tenure, the annual budget for financial aid doubled, from $30 million to $60 million, reducing significantly the debt burden for graduating students. Applications for admission increased from 8,000 in 2000 to more than 13,000 in 2007, and Vanderbilt became one of the most selective institutions in the country, with average SAT scores rising almost 100 points and with more than 90 percent of incoming students coming from the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The university saw one of the most rapid changes in student body diversity during this time, with a 50 percent increase in minority students.
The campus landscape changed visibly under Gee's leadership, as more than $700 million in new facilities for medical research, student services, studio arts, engineering, law, children's health, diabetes care, performing arts, interdisciplinary work in arts and sciences, tennis, baseball, Jewish life and African-American culture were completed or begun. In perhaps the most dramatic development in campus life, the university began construction of The Commons, a $150 million investment in the undergraduate experience that will transform student life by creating a "campus within a campus" for first-year students beginning with the entering class of 2008.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center became the most-preferred provider of health care services in Middle Tennessee, with the opening of the most advanced children's hospital in the country and new clinical services in a number of areas.
Gee made national headlines in 2003 when he restructured the university's athletics program in an effort to fully integrate athletics and student athletes into the rest of the campus culture. Though initially the target of much criticism and doubt, the move resulted in unprecedented success, with seven of Vanderbilt's teams ranked in the top 25 during the Spring 2007 season and students, faculty and coaches alike reporting an increased sense of community and involvement in university life.
Gee placed a special emphasis on increasing Vanderbilt's commitment to and participation within the surrounding community, specifically through the development and enhancement of world-class scholarship, teaching and mentoring, public service and patient care. While at Vanderbilt, Gee personally played an active role in the Nashville community and in Middle Tennessee. He served as a member of the advisory committee for the Nashville Alliance for Public Education and the Tennessee Campus Compact Presidents' Council. He was on the board of directors for Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, Harpeth Hall School, and the board of the Tennessee College Association. In conjunction with Vanderbilt, Chancellor Gee was awarded the Outstanding Promotion of Diversity Award by the Nashville branch of the NAACP. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Nashville Women's Political Caucus' Good Guy Award and the recipient of the Nashville chapter of the Public Relations Society of America's Apollo Award for Communications Leadership.