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Vanderbilt Interest Projects (VIP)

Community Description

The Vanderbilt Interest Projects (VIP) program is a joint effort of the Provost’s Office and the Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE). This initiative allows groups of five to ten students wishing to live together and study a topic of interest outside of the classroom while working with a faculty or staff advisor of their choice. Successful applicants will be expected to construct and participate in a yearlong learning experience. They receive a video camcorder, project management training, and up to $500 in support of their projects. Written proposals are reviewed by a Selection Committee of faculty, staff, and students. Decisions will be made based on the submitted materials and an interview with the selection committee. For more information contact one of the following: Diana Morris at diana.morris@Vanderbilt.Edu or TaCara Harris at tacara.d.harris@Vanderbilt.Edu (Graduate Program Coordinators), or Traci R. Ray (Associate Director/VIP Leadership Council Advisor) at t.ray@vanderbilt.edu.

Past VIP Projects


Mission/Goals of VIP

The goals of VIP include:

  • Topic exploration
  • Peer to peer learning
  • Faculty involvement and advisement
  • Individual and group reflection on experiences
  • Integration of those experiences into future research and action

VIPs also educate others in the campus community about the group’s topic in a variety of ways throughout the academic year.

Ultimately, VIP engages students in a group experience that develops their critical thinking, civic-consciousness, and self-awareness. VIP helps train students to be self-directed, self-reflective, and self-corrective—in a group setting and for the benefit of others. “Management” is our mantra, as VIP teaches students how to manage their time, projects, and resources.

Project Background

Successful applicants participate in a fall orientation session, work with the faculty or staff adviser throughout the year, and participate in a weekly dining experience with the members of their project. Groups also participate in VIP programs organized to benefit the projects and the campus as a whole, and they submit monthly progress reports to the Graduate Assistant Project Coordinators.

The Learning Projects are separate from the programs offered by the McGill Project or with the McTyeire International House. Groups are encouraged to draw members from a variety of schools, majors, classes and cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic identities. Each group must have an adviser who is either a faculty member or an approved University official, and who is committed to playing a key role in helping students reflect on what they are learning. Graduate students may be advisers if they have approval from their Director of Graduate Studies.

In conjunction with designing their own project, VIP groups develop a portfolio of their yearlong work. This includes an annual action plan, TV commercial, and professionally laminated poster. Other groups have maintained their own blogs or filmed their own documentaries.

Pictures from this Years VIP Showcase

Vanderbilt Interest Projects Blog


Cultural Fitness


In the Know Dores

Around the World in 180 Days

Pintrest Projects

Circle K

The Unspoken Truth

When in Rome

Application Information & Process

Written applications will be reviewed by a Selections Committee composed of faculty, administrators, and students. Last year’s acceptance rate was 75 percent, though decisions will rest ultimately on the quality of submitted materials.

Each spring, a selections committee consisting of faculty members, staff from the Office of the Dean of Students, and student leaders representing Vanderbilt Student Government and Residential Education will review the application materials submitted by each group. The committee will evaluate completed application materials based on the following criteria: (1) strength of written materials, (2) clear purpose and goals, (3) in-depth exploration, (4) opportunities for reflection, (5) ability to educate others, (6) strength of essay responses, (7) originality and uniqueness, (8) accountability of group members, (9) need for living together, (10) support of faculty/staff advisor, and (11) overall congruence to VIP’s Core Values. Finally, the Selections Committee may request to meet with applicants if clarification is needed regarding their project.

Staff Contact Info

Graduate Program Coordinator: Diana Morris, diana.morris@Vanderbilt.Edu, 4119 Branscomb Quadrangle

Area Coordinator: Toni Viola, tonimarie.viola@vanderbilt.edu, 119 Vanderbilt Hall

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