After serving only two years as president of Brown University, E. Gordon Gee unexpectedly resigned this week to become chancellor of Vanderbilt University. The school's trustees named Sheila Blumstein, chairwoman of the cognitive and linguistic sciences department, interim president of Brown yesterday afternoon. Gee's abrupt resignation shocked and angered the Brown community and the school's peer institutions. "[The announcement] is one of great surprise," said Brown spokesman Mark Nickel said. "It's fair to say there's a lot of disappointment." During his time as president, Gee raised the single-most amount of money in the history of Brown in one year, Brown Student Council President Seth Andrew said. But his tenure is the shortest in Brown history, and he never fully gelled with the small school's faculty and students. In an interview with The New York Times, Gee said he decided to leave because he thought he could make a greater difference at Vanderbilt -- a research university in Nashville, Tenn. -- than at the Providence, R.I., school, known for its strong undergraduate liberal arts programs. "Two years is just too short, and I admit that up front," Gee told the Times. "But every once in a while, the issue of fit, and the issue of passion and the issue of making a difference has to be calibrated into it." There has been speculation, though, that financial matters may have influenced Gee's decision. He will be paid nearly on par with his Vanderbilt predecessor, who received more than $500,000 in salary and benefits. Gee currently earns about $300,000 at Brown. They also offered his wife a tenured professor position. But Gee told the Brown Daily Herald on Sunday that his motives were not financial and that he never sought out the top job at Vanderbilt. Instead, he said, the school offered him the job three times before he finally accepted it after much soul-searching. Gee said he will remain at Brown until April 15, but with Blumstein's appointment and the animosity many at Brown now feel towards him, he may leave earlier. His term as chancellor of Vanderbilt will take effect on August 1. According to Nickel, the majority of administrators, faculty and students supported Gee's initiatives as president. "He has done amazing things for the university," Andrew said, noting that Gee put Brown at the forefront of the nationwide battle against sweatshops by joining the Worker Rights Consortium. Andrew added that Gee's resignation left students with a feeling of sadness but also a sense of betrayal and distrust. "He said two years ago there's no question that it would be his last university presidency, and I expected him to be here eight to 10 years," Andrew said. Nickel said Gee's departure will not affect the strength of the university. "I don't think Brown as an institution will even pause much?. It has a strong internal momentum," Nickel added.Comments powered by Disqus
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