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A View from Kirkland Hall

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A great university brings the best lessons of the past and the present forward to shape the future. In this sense, a university is an inherently optimistic institution. Each fall, we welcome to our campus new students and new faculty, bright, accomplished and bristling with potential. These newcomers merge into the broad community of students and faculty here before them. They add to the living, breathing organism of thought and action that makes campus life so exhilarating.

I write today to thank you—each and every one of you—for your contributions to the vitality of this life in the Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science. In Arts and Science we have a vision for the future that we aim to realize through our teaching and learning, our research and new discoveries, and our service to our community and to the wider world. Ours is a bold and ambitious vision that involves work at the very highest levels across and among the sciences, social sciences and humanities. I believe passionately that the diversity of thought within Arts and Science is our greatest strength. In a world that grows more complex all the time, where unimagined possibilities challenge orthodoxies of thought and belief, new answers come from unexpected sources. Complexity requires diversity.

To succeed, we need each other.

The community that advances the Arts and Science vision far exceeds the physical borders of our campus. The alumni, families and friends of Arts and Science walk alongside those of us here on campus in our principled dedication to a better future. You have expressed your dedication to that commitment thousands of times over in the past few years when we asked for your help in an effort that has, quite literally, shaped our future. Vanderbilt University has recently concluded its Shape the Future campaign. As you will learn in the pages that follow, this fundraising effort has raised money much needed in support of student scholarships, faculty research and discovery, the advancement of academic innovation and much more. The Shape the Future campaign also made clear how profoundly dedicated we—our community, in all the diversity of perspective, age and experience represented by that term—remain to a positive outlook. To a belief in education, pure and simple.

In this issue of Arts and Science, we turn the lens from its customary focus on our campus toward a vision of our larger community: toward you. You have spoken and you have acted. You have reached down deeply and given generously, even in times of economic uncertainty. Thanks to your generosity, we can point to changes for the better all over our campus—to young alumni entering the world free of debt, thanks to scholarships raised through Opportunity Vanderbilt; to advances in research vital to the arts and the sciences; to the recruitment and retention of great faculty from all over the world. I hope that in reading the pages that follow, you enjoy a glimpse of the story you have made possible. For your role in shaping a future that looks very bright indeed, it is my great honor to offer you my heartfelt gratitude.

Carolyn Dever

photo credit: Daniel Dubois

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