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For week ended February 13, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS President of Brown University Resigns to Join Vanderbilt as Chancellor
Boston Globe 8Feb00 P2
By Kate Zernike, Globe Staff, 2/8/2000

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND -- Brown University President E. Gordon Gee, a conservative member of the LDS Church, resigned yesterday morning, saying he has accepted a position as chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Gee has been president of Brown for two years, during which he has raised some controversy because of his more businesslike approach and more conservative outlook.

Gee was seen as a 'breath-of-fresh-air' candidate when he succeeded Vartan Gregorian, who led Brown for a decade. Gee's approach included announcing reviews of all programs in an effort to eliminate those not competitive with other top universities. He announced a $47 million initiative on brain science, but angered faculty because he hadn't reviewed the proposal with key faculty committees. Then three administrators left within weeks of each other last year, alarming many on campus.

But Gee's record at Brown has not been without success. Gee raised $109 million during his first full year at Brown, double what had been raised the previous year. He tried to get in touch with Brown's student body, inviting students to dinner. He also chaired a committee to choose the new superintendent of Providence Public Schools, in an effort to make the presidency a more public institution.

Reactions on campus were varied. Executive Vice President for University Relations Laura Freid said, ''He was working on the fit issue, and everybody was working with him. In the end, he felt he was going to be more comfortable somewhere else."

Gee's decision to resign was completely unexpected at Brown and among observers of higher education. Serving as President of a University for just two years is "unheard of" according to Judith McLaughlin of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. ''I would guess that was the case here,'' she said. ''I like Gordon enormously, he's a very capable guy, but for him, Brown represented a foreign culture, and for Brown he represented a stranger. That kind of learning about each other that happens in the first two years was taking place, it was a bit messier than one would have hoped it might be. Given the chance to go somewhere that was a better fit, I'm not surprised he would.'' Less than a month ago, Gee was profiled on the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the respected weekly newsmagazine covering higher education (see Mormon News' summary at: )

Gee, who was first named president of a college at age 37, has served as president of the University of Colorado and West Virginia University and Ohio State University, from which he resigned to join Brown. Gee is originally from Utah and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and a law degree from Columbia. He is the former dean of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Gee told reporters yesterday that the decision to leave Providence was difficult, but that Vanderbilt is "a special place." He plans to leave in April and join Vanderbilt in August. A Vanderbilt press release naming Gee as the new Chancellor calls Gee "the ideal leader for Vanderbilt."


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