Home » Living Learning Communities » McGill Project

McGill Project

Community Description

The McGill Project makes its home of McGill Hall a place with a strong sense of community and acceptance.  McGill Project members consider themselves part of an ongoing campus tradition of free expression and discovery.  The McGill Project provides a home for students with a wide variety of majors and interests; this diversity is represented during yearly programs and activities.  In the fall, Project members select a theme for the Annual Spring Showcase, which, for the past few years, has been a mixed-media fair for the campus and surrounding community.  At the showcase, project members present visual art, poetry, performance art, and other creative exhibits.  Participants also attend McGill Hours a weekly program of the McGill Project in which Vanderbilt professors or Nashville community activists visit the Project and share about more controversial or provocative topics on which the speakers may not have an opportunity to educate students in the classroom..  Vanderbilt students interested in joining the Project and living in McGill Hall can complete an application followed by an interview process with McGill Project members. For questions, contact Luke Nantz (Program Coordinator/Graduate Advisor).



The McGill Coffeehouses are “open mic” nights  held twice a semester where Project members, other Vanderbilt students, and local community members perform musical arts, read poetry, perform stand-up comedy acts, and showcase artwork to a very supportive audience.

The McGill Project Spring Showcase is a yearly event that Project members host for the Vanderbilt family and surrounding community.  The Executive Council chooses a showcase theme in the Fall, members have several months to create their contributions, and the event is held during the last week in March or first week in April.  All members participate and use their creativity and imagination to develop something truly unique that both their peers and the community will enjoy.

For the past few years, the showcase has been an arts fair and residents present not only their visual art, but also poetry and performance art.  Previous themes have been “Carpe Noctem (Sieze the Night)”, “Consumption”, and “The New Normal”.  The theme for 2012-2013 is “Worlds Within Worlds.”

The McGill Hours Series provides residents with the opportunity to interact with faculty and staff members outside of the classroom along with local community members on topics of mutual interest that are not usually covered during class.  John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy and one of the most popular teachers on campus, frequently opens the series in the early fall.

Lizzie McGill established The McGill Award in 1960 in memory of her husband, Dr. John T. McGill, who spent his life in service to Vanderbilt University, first as a student in the class of 1879 and then as a professor and historian of the institution.  The award is presented each spring to a Project member who, in the eyes of their fellow McGillites, “has best established the qualities of leadership as well as being a good student of gentle bearing.”  The award, along with a $750 scholarship, is presented annually at the end-of-year Magnolia Awards.



In 1972, then-Dean of Students K.C. Potter, the Office of Housing and Residential Education, and the Department of Philosophy undertook the creation of a unique living and learning environment in McGill Hall.  The McGill Project, the first living learning community on campus, offered students the chance to learn from and interact with faculty and staff members outside the classroom in an open and inviting environment.

Interestingly enough, current Dean of Students Mark Bandas served as the first McGill Project Coordinator in the mid-1970s.  In 1987, the Department of Art joined the endeavor and as a result, the McGill Project became a living learning community geared toward students with interests in philosophy and arts.

The active involvement of the Departments of Philosophy and Art, the special arrangements by the Office of Housing and Residential Education, and the commitment of McGill residents to their community have all contributed to a long history of diverse social and educational activities.


The McGill Project was created to inspire community, open discussion, free thought, and creativity on Vanderbilt University’s campus through a rich living learning environment and various special programs in McGill Hall.  Project members are part of an ongoing tradition where participants are pushed to express themselves culturally, socially, politically, and intellectually.


Student Leadership

The McGill Project Executive Council

The McGill Project Executive Council is the governing body of the Project and consists of 13 elected Project Members. The Council is advised by the Program Coordinator and Alumni Lawn Area Coordinator and supported by the RA staff in the Hall. The council meets weekly to plan and coordinate programs and events such as theme parties, midnight breakfasts, and McGill Coffeehouses. For more information about the student leadership and programs, visit the AnchorLink page.

McGill Constitution October 2014

The Solaris Council

The Solaris Council serves as the voice of McGill over the summer. Representatives advocate to the administration, make purchases for the benefit of the community, recruit new members, and plan events for the fall. The Solaris Council will also address any other opportunities or challenges faced by McGill.

Representative for Facilities – Michael Woods
Representative for Events - Musbah Shaheen
Representative for Recruitment – John Lewis
Representative for Publicity – Michael Zoorob
Representative for Finance – Bill Hillsman


Staff Contact Information

Graduate Program Coordinator: Luke Nantz, luke.nantz@vanderbilt.edu, 4117 Branscomb Quadrangle

Area Coordinator and Council Advisor: Andrea Ramos-Lewis, andrea.ramos-lewis@vanderbilt.edu , 119 Vanderbilt Hall

Associate Director: Traci R. Ray, t.ray@vanderbilt.edu, 4120 Branscomb Quadrangle

Application Process & Information

2014-2015 Rolling Admissions Process

1) Prospective Project member attends a McGill Hour.
2) Prospective Project member completes the Project Application
3) Prospective Project member create an artistic piece of self-expression.
4) Prospective Project member brings the artistic piece to an interview with the Vice President for Campus Outreach and another member of the McGill Project.
5) If the two interviewers approve of the candidate, they may present his or her application to the Executive Council for a decision.
6) With a quorum of 2/3 of all elected officers, a ¾ vote approves the candidate’s acceptance into the Project.
7) The Graduate Program Coordinator will coordinate the student’s placement into McGill Hall.

2015-2016 Selections Process
Experiencing the Project
Students considering applying to the Project are encouraged to attend one of the community’s McGill Hours or Coffeehouses. Prospective Project Members can always just stop by McGill Hall to experience firsthand the Project community. As the Application Process period unfolds, interested students can attend informational meetings to also learn about the Project.

The online 2015-2016 McGill Project Applications will become accessible through this website by November 15th, 2014.

Participant Selection
The Selections Committee, consisting solely of McGill Project members, will review applications, interview applicants, and recommend people for admission to the Project. Some applicants may be placed on a ranked waiting list until space becomes available in the Hall.

Near Spring Break, letters of notification will be sent to all applicants indicating whether they have been accepted into the Project. Admitted students will not be eligible for participation in the regular housing lottery, but will be required to complete the standard Vanderbilt University Housing contract for their living space in McGill.