Higher Education: Marijuana at the Mansion is a story of power, politics, and just plain bad manners at the uppermost echelons of university life, as told by a former first lady of three major American universities. It is a candid and often humorous portrayal of the noholds-barred corporate maneuverings of university leadership-of how sitting university presidents are clandestinely courted and stolen; of faithless relationships among top-level university officials; and of the hypocrisy of those who present themselves and their universities as society's moral beacons.
It is also the story of a marriage that could not withstand the pressures of public life and the debilitating illness of Ménière's disease, a little-known but devastating disorder of the inner ear that causes severe vertigo and hearing loss. The author landed in a heap of trouble when the Wall Street Journal reported that she had smoked marijuana in the Vanderbilt University chancellor's residence for relief from "an inner ear ailment," in addition to having caused "stirs on campus with her liberal politics." Clearly, this first lady of a university run by Old South conservatives was destined for a spectacular pratfall from grace.
Higher Education is a bravely told tale from a highly original perspective. It will captivate readers interested in the behind-the-scenes intrigue of American university politics and the current controversy surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana.
Constance Bumgarner Gee was the first lady and a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, Brown University, and Ohio State University. She currently lives, writes, and gardens on the bank of the Westport River in southern Massachusetts.