In the wake of Gee's decision, some national higher education leaders said his rejection of the UC job sends a troubling message, particularly to other public universities.
"When the most prestigious public university system in the world doesn't get its first choice, that's--how shall I say it?--embarrassing," said Robert H. Atwell, chairman of the American Council on Education in Washington. "This is very unfortunate for the University of California."
Kerr, the UC president emeritus, said he worried that the loss of Gee would "poison the atmosphere" of the search committee.
"There's going to be a lot of suspicion--who leaked the information--and a certain amount of finger-pointing," he said.
Several people, including Kerr, speculated that the regents--who had broken with more than three decades of tradition by picking someone with no connections to UC--might now be more likely to choose a candidate from within the UC system.