The marriage of Vanderbilt Chancellor E. Gordon Gee and his wife Constance is coming to an end.
Constance Gee filed for divorce yesterday in Davidson County Circuit Court (filing available at this link), citing "irreconcilable differences" but specifying that her husband would not be required to file an answer. Attorney Rose Palermo of Nashville is representing her. This morning, the university issued the following statement from Gee:
"Constance and I have agreed to seek a divorce. While this is a difficult decision, we remain committed to each other’s happiness and success. I ask that you respect our privacy regarding this issue."
The breakup comes five months after a report in The Wall Street Journal revealed that Constance Gee had smoked marijuana in the couple's university-owned mansion, Braeburn. The newspaper story also focused attention on the more than $6 million that had been spent to renovate Braeburn and on the chancellor's high travel and entertainment expenses.
The article quoted an unnamed source saying that when Gordon Gee was confronted by board members over his wife's dope-smoking, a trembling Gee said, "I've been worried to death over this." Constance Gee, who is an associate professor of public policy and education at V.U.'s Peabody College was reprimanded.
Constance Gee had previously attracted attention for the way she expressed her political views, sometimes in opposition to her husband's actions. In May 2004, she signed a letter of protest over the Chancellor's decision to confer official honors on then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice. After President George W. Bush's re-election that year, the university's first lady came under criticism for lowering the American flag in front of Braeburn to half-mast.
Gordon Gee, 63, and the former Constance Bumgarner, 53, have been married since 1994. Their marriage produced no children. Chancellor Gee has one daughter from his previous marriage to the late Elizabeth Gee.
Gordon Gee is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose doctrine opposes but does not forbid divorce. "Christ's ideal pertaining to marriage is the unbroken home, and conditions that cause divorce are violations of his divine teachings," the late church President David O. McKay said in a 1969 policy statement. "Except in cases of infidelity or other extreme conditions, the church frowns upon divorce."
Constance Gee, however, is not a member of the LDS Church. Studies have shown that divorce rates in marriages between Mormons and non-Mormons are comparable to those of the general U.S. population.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS