Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breaking News: Gee Leaving Vanderbilt

E. Gordon Gee just shocked Commodore Nation with the announcement that he is leaving to go back to Ohio August. Not much turn-around time on this one. A former professor just gave me the news, although I see Aaron was the first on the blog to pick it up.

He's been touted as an innovator in collegiate sports and I personally think he's been an outstanding chancellor. The school has enjoyed tremendous all-around success under his leadership. He will be missed.

So here's the question: What does this mean for Vanderbilt sports?

Send us your thoughts, frustrations, lamentations, etc.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)


Douglas James said...

This is easily the biggest Vanderbilt sports story of the year (Sweet 16, #1 Team, first national championship, #1 draft pick). I will be very interested to see who they go after to replace him. I mean even though he got rid of the AD he was very supportive of Vandy sports and kept coaches like Corbin when they could have left. Also interested to see if they go after a Ivy league prez (someone w/ experience w/ residential colleges) which means they might not be as supportive of college athletics. Just when Vandy was heading in the right direction athletically this is a huge diversion from their goals. Let just hope they make the right decision on the next one.

Stanimal said...

Uncertainty in management is always a terrifying thing when it first happens. The first inclination is to assume that everything will take a step backward. Vanderbilt, unlike any other school in the SEC or in Division I-A athletics, has an inextricable link between it's athletic department and its administration. So when the man responsible for placing the athletic department under administrative control leaves, it begs the question, what happens now?

I don't think Vanderbilt will take steps backwards, neither athletically nor academically. As far as the athletic department is concerned, I feel that Vice Chancellor Williams will likely stay the course. Not much will change in Vanderbilt athletics, and consequently I doubt that there will be any coach turnover.

I do wonder who Vanderbilt will look to in Gee's absence, considering the University is in a period of transition academically. I thought there was still work to be done as far as the conversion to residential colleges. If that would be the case, could we possibly see someone from within the University take the post as Chancellor?

Seamus O'Toole said...

I agree with most of both comments. It's a huge deal for Vandy sports - Gee had a vision and was doing a hell of a job turning the school into both an academic and an athletic powerhouse. I'll never forget the story of him and David Williams meeting Tim Corbin on the tarmac after illegally discovering the tail number of the plane he was on, and renegotiating Corbin's contract right there on the runway. Not many university presidents would pull a stunt like that.

I guess part of what makes his decision so disappointing is that the university seems to be in a transition period, as you both mentioned, where it's on the verge of moving to a higher echelon in both academics and athletics, and proving that you don't have to sacrifice one to succeed in the other. It will be tough to find a chancellor who has the ability to put that kind of vision into action the way Gee seemed to be doing.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear this guys. Things like this you wish the guy gave you some more notice, he won't be an easy replacement. with that said do any of you have any ill feelings towards Gee? and secondly, many of you have speculated that his replacement will come from within, but is there anyone outside of the Vandy family worth considering? would you look towards a Wake, Northwestern, UVA or somewhere else?

Douglas James said...

He did an amazing job for Vanderbilt the past few years and really made us a "National" university in both Sports and Academics. That being said I'm not a big fan of 1) people who don't finish what they start 2) people who talk a big game then don't follow through. Gee did both of these by not finishing residential colleges and by ripping the NCAA and Athletic Departments then going to the school with the biggest one in the country. If we land on our feet which i expect us to do I won't hate the man but nor will I respect him the way I once did.

Aaron said...

this is a very sad moment for Vandy. Gee was only our 7th chancellor in 134 years, and to lose him hurts the school in many ways.
1st) Gee was the face for Vandy. Everyday you would see him around campus in his bow tie talking to students and just being a prominent figure.
2nd) As mentioned he really help Vandy sports progress towards a new era, and i think we will maintain that because we have good staff in place and great leadership from upper classman.
3rd) Gee raised more money for Vandy, over 1.25 billion dollars in his 7 years. He was a fund raiser and a marketing genius. This is where he will be missed the most. The money he brought in helped hire better teachers, coaches, and recruit better studnets.
4th) The residential college project was slightly in the works when he got there, and he was the one who put it over the top. I still withhold my vote on how successfull it will be, but it still is a massive living/learning project.

I do have some ill feelings towards him because he just recently turned ohio state down, and now that they give him more money he leaves again.

I think Vandy has no choice but to go after an Ivy league person, just like they did with Gee. They have the money, and the Ivy leaguers have the vision needed to finish what Gee started. Look for us to go after the guy from princeton who just left when the woman took over.

Anonymous said...

american idol sucks

Bobby O'Shea said...

At the risk of ruffling a few feathers, I will say that I am absolutely horrified that Gee is leaving and plan on slamming him every chance I get.

Was Gee a fantastic chancellor for Vanderbilt? I think so. In fact, Gee was such a great chancellor that he had articulated and was seeking to implement a long-term vision for Vanderbilt. Gee came to Vanderbilt with a vision in mind. Over the last 7 years, he was sought to make that vision a reality. While the implementation is progressing along, it is by no means complete. Gordon Gee is running out on a job that is half finished.

If I may be so bold as to make an analogy, Gordon Gee is the Nick Saban of university presidents. He turned down the job 3 weeks ago. He has taken less money, and he said Vanderbilt was where he wanted to be. Obviously, that is not the case.

Looking forward, the key is not necessarily who the new chancellor will be (although that is key), but rather keeping David Williams on. While Gee was the "face" of Vanderbilt, David Williams is the man behind the scenes that gets things done. If the board is smart, securing David Williams is extremely important and should be priority number 1.

This is the case for a couple reasons. One, David Williams has been Gee's right-hand man on both the "Commons" project (Residential Colleges) and the restructuring of the athletic department. If Vanderbilt's last seven years moving on Gee's "vision" are not to be considered a waste, David Williams will need to remain to keep the school on track. Two, David Williams has proven himself to be someone who can get the job done. Any kind of interim leadership team will require both institutional knowledge and stability. David Williams embodies both.

A few more things on Gee. He is giving Vanderbilt 20 days notice. WHAT? Are you kidding? I just left my relatively low level job (particularly when compared to that of a university president) and gave more notice then that. He is leaving Vanderbilt in the lurch as far as I am concerned.

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Gordon Gee and think he did a fantastic job as chancellor (although I am sure it doesn't appear as such given my post thus far). With that said, and this is a point Douglas James made earlier, he is leaving a job that is not complete.

Will Vanderbilt go to hell in a hand basket? No. Is the university in relatively good shape as far as academics, athletics, student body, etc...are concerned? Certainly. But that doesn't make Gordon Gee's decision any less disheartening.

In conclusion, I have one same request. No more bow-ties on campus, it sends the wrong signal.

Bobby O'Shea said...

There is an unconfirmed report that Gordon Gee consulted Nick Saban before making a final decision on Ohio State. Developing...

Anonymous said...

Hoser of the week?

Anonymous said...

I agree with bobby. This is incredible. Gee is nothing more than a mercenary, and while he has done great things for our alma mater, this really makes you wonder.

As for David Williams, I have the sinking feeling that he will follow Gee, as he has in the past. I hope he stays, but I think he and Gee are a package deal.

This seems to go against everything that Gee was reaching for at Vanderbilt, and while I doubt he has to many years of leading universities left in him, his reputation will be tainted.

Unknown said...

As someone who graduated in May my four years in Nashville were all presided over by Gee. As everyone has mentioned I think he did a great job putting Vandy on the national stage, raising money, etc. That being said I have always felt he has been somewhat of a two faced administrator. A friend of mine worked closely with him as Interhall president and cited multiple occasions where Gee allegedly sided with students and then blamed other faculty when he agreements/promises were broken. Also, as popluar as the commons project is with the board and alumni, my feeling was that the general consensus with students was that it will ruin the "work hard, play hard" culture at Vandy and effectively doom the Greek system.

In looking at Gee's histoy this move shouldn't come as much of a shock as he has always followed the money to bigger and, excluding this move, better things. I feel that his career is more Larry Brown-esque in that sense, but I like the Saban comparison, as well.
And even though he strengthened the focus on athletics it can't be forgotten that he disbanded the boys' soccer team, one of the more successful and promising programs at the time. I think the only real loss will be in Gee's ability to raise money and act as a public figurehead. All is not lost.

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