Gordon Gee will leave after seven years as Vanderbilt’s chancellor to return to Ohio State University as its president, a position he previously held from 1990 to 1997. His resignation is effective Aug. 1.
Vanderbilt Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nicholas S. Zeppos has been named interim chancellor effective Aug. 1, Board of Trust Chairman Martha R. Ingram announced on July 12.
“This was by far the most difficult professional decision that I have ever made,” Gee wrote in a July 11 e-mail message to the Vanderbilt community. “I want you to know that I am not leaving Vanderbilt. Rather, I am following my heart and returning to a place that I consider my home.
“My decision is that simple and that complex. Over the past several weeks, members of the Board of Trust and the university family have done everything possible to make me feel valued and appreciated. I assure you that I do.”
Gee came to Vanderbilt in 2000 as only the seventh chancellor in the university’s 134-year history. He previously served as president of Brown University, Ohio State, the University of Colorado and West Virginia University.
“We are grateful to Chancellor Gee for his efforts over the past seven years and wish him well in his new endeavors,” Ingram said. “This is a remarkable university, with the most deeply committed and loyal students, faculty, staff and alumni. Their accomplishments and the support of our many friends around the world have made every member of the Vanderbilt family proud and excited for the future.
“Nick Zeppos is a gifted scholar, teacher, executive and leader who has been one of the principal architects of Vanderbilt’s success in recent years,” she continued. “The Board of Trust has complete confidence in his ability to maintain Vanderbilt’s momentum during this transition. He is committed to every part of Vanderbilt’s mission; to the success of our students, faculty and staff; and to our values of equality, compassion and excellence.”
Ingram added, “The board looks forward to working with every part of the Vanderbilt community in planning a thorough and inclusive process to select our next chancellor. In the meantime, we are blessed to have an extraordinarily talented senior management team in which we have complete confidence.”
“I am honored and humbled to serve as the interim chancellor of this great university,” Zeppos said. “Vanderbilt is my home and my passion, and I look forward to engaging with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to continue the vital work that takes place on this campus every day.”
Zeppos currently serves as Vanderbilt’s chief academic, development, alumni relations and student affairs officer, with broad responsibility for resource management. He also chairs the university’s Integrated Planning Budgeting Council.
Zeppos joined the Vanderbilt Law School faculty in 1987 after practicing law in Washington, D.C. He later served as associate dean of the law school and subsequently associate provost for academic affairs. He was named vice chancellor for institutional planning and advancement in 2000 and provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2001.
Zeppos has spearheaded a number of important initiatives, including the planning process for The Commons and College
Halls of Vanderbilt, the Strategic Academic Planning Group, innovative efforts in undergraduate admissions and financial aid, and the development of new programs in Jewish studies. He also has led the university’s Shape the Future fund-raising campaign, which exceeded its $1.25 billion goal two years ahead of schedule and set a new target of $1.75 billion by 2010.
A nationally recognized scholar in legislation and government regulation, Zeppos has written widely on legislation, administrative law and professional responsibility. He has won five teaching awards at the law school. He served as chair of the Scholars Committee on the Federal Judiciary and as chair of the Rules Advisory Committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Zeppos also has served as consultant to government agencies, major corporations and trade associations on complex litigation, policy design and implementation, administrative law, constitutional law, civil procedure, federal jurisdiction and regulation of financial institutions.
Zeppos received both his bachelor of arts and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife Lydia Howarth, a writer and editor, have two sons, Ben, a junior at Princeton University, and Nicholas, a senior at the University School of Nashville.