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Message from the Chancellor about the Nashville flood

Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2010.

Dear Colleagues,

As flood waters recede, our time to assist members of the Vanderbilt community who have been personally affected by this tragedy is beginning. Personal stories of losses suffered by our colleagues and their families, and of our trainees, are heartbreaking. Yet, we serve an institution that is at its very best during times of challenge and sorrow.

The magnitude of loss caused to members of our community by this flood is perhaps greater than any other event our city has ever encountered, and than we have ever faced before as a university. Admittedly, we have not mounted an assistance effort resembling this scale and scope before, so we are learning to refine this process as we move forward, but I assure you that helping members of our community navigate through this extraordinarily difficult time is our priority.

I have asked Provost McCarty and Vice Chancellor Balser to identify individuals within the university who have expertise in areas of loss assistance to work together to assess specific needs of our community members who remain affected. Simultaneously, as information about the needs of our colleagues and students is being collected, we are working toward a process that will address these needs as the university is best able, and more information about that initiative will be communicated as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, as a first step, we have developed a faculty, staff and trainee needs assessment survey available online. This survey can be submitted by affected individuals or by their supervisor.

Because we are seeking as complete an assessment as possible of members of our workforce who remain affected, we are requesting that deans, departmental leadership and managers make sure all employees or trainees under their supervision are aware of this survey. All completed surveys are to be submitted to this site by Monday, May 10.

Based on responses to this survey, we are contemplating a number of support options, such as the creation of a flood resource center, so it is vitally important for us to receive as accurate an assessment of our affected workforce as possible. These responses will help drive our efforts.

We are also calling upon each of you to reach out to your colleagues, your work family, to ask if they need help. We are all here for the common good of the university, but we are also here to help each other.

While we are conducting a workforce needs assessment and also implementing a process to address these specific needs, faculty and staff who need emergency assistance should call the Work/Life Connections-EAP counselors at 936-1327.

The university has created a website, www.vanderbilt.edu/flood, to provide information for those in need and those who want to assist. Once we have developed our response to the survey results, the details will be posted there. The site will be updated regularly as information becomes available.

Those who wish to make donations right now for faculty, staff and students in need can do so through the Employee Hardship Fund.

It is my privilege to serve as your Chancellor during all times, but I am most humbled by the times when we, as a community, respond to the calling of helping our own, and I am deeply grateful for that spirit and for all you do.

Sincerely,

Nicholas S. Zeppos

Chancellor