The Wall Street Journal
ran a front-page story today about Vanderbilt University's Chancellor Gee. Titled "Vanderbilt Reins in Lavish Spending by Star Chancellor," it includes a description of the Chancellor's $700,000 living tab (on top of his $1.4 million salary) that includes luxuries such as a personal chef, paid for by the university. The chancellor's wife, Constance Gee, "kept marijuana at Braeburn [the chancellor's mansion] and was using it there," supposedly for medicinal purposes.www.wsj.com
is a pay site, so any link I provide to the article (such as this one
) will require you to sign in.
Vanderbilt is not the only school suffering from overly zealous spending. From the article:
American University last fall forced out President Benjamin Ladner after auditors questioned more than $500,000 in expenditures by him and his wife. The Washington, D.C. university paid for the couple's birthday parties and European vacations in first class hotels, according to the audit. Investigators found the Ladners once stopped in Rome on a business trip to Dubai so Mrs. Ladner could have her hair cut by her favorite stylist. Mr. Ladner says the university didn't pay for any European vacations and the Rome stop 'had nothing to do with' his wife getting a haircut.
The article stresses Vanderbilt's desire for to keep Gee on as chancellor, citing multiple quotes from trustees and chairman Martha Ingram praising his performance. Under Gee's leadership, the school has climbed the scholastic rankings, raised more than $1.2 billion and reduced its admitted student rate to 34% (down from 55% when Gee came on board). I'm not sure how instrumental Gee was to the initial decision to switch the school to a residential college system (similar to those at Yale), but the program was definitely designed on his watch. Today's Vanderbilt is completely different from the one Gee found when he arrived in Nashville.
If you don't know already, I attended Vanderbilt (graduated in 2004) and have nothing but praise for the way Chancellor Gee runs the school. We are on a first-name basis and have exchanged emails over the years, so I do not have the appropriate level of distance necessary to give an unbiased opinion. I will say, however, that $1.4 million is outrageously high. Gee's annual compensation is "among the highest for U.S. university leaders" which, while absurd, is indicative of a national trend towards big paychecks in academia. Well, not for professors of philosophy or 17th century French literature, but...well, you know what I mean.