Nicholas S. Zeppos was named Vanderbilt’s chancellor March 1 following the Board of Trust’s winter meeting.
The unanimous election of Zeppos, who had served as Vanderbilt’s chief academic officer since 2002 and interim chancellor since last summer, marks the first
time in 70 years that Vanderbilt has chosen a chancellor from within the university.
“I always will consider myself a faculty member, a teacher,” Zeppos said in accepting the appointment. “A university is the most vital institution in society because it is built on timeless values of truth, knowledge, discovery and healing.”
“We wanted a chancellor who was a true scholar,” said Dennis C. Bottorff, BE’66, chair of a nine-member committee that undertook a national chancellor search following the resignation of E. Gordon Gee last August.
Since 2002, Zeppos has overseen the university’s undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs, as well as research in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education, business, law and divinity. As provost and vice chancellor, he chaired Vanderbilt’s budgeting and capital planning council, led fundraising and alumni relations efforts, and oversaw the dean of students and dean of admissions.
Zeppos has led a number of initiatives at Vanderbilt, including the planning process for The Commons; the Strategic Academic Planning Group; innovative efforts
in undergraduate admissions and financial aid; and development of programs in Jewish studies, law and economics, and genetics, among others. He has led the university’s current Shape the Future fundraising campaign, which exceeded its $1.25 billion goal two years ahead of schedule and set a new target of $1.75 billion by 2010.
Zeppos joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor in the law school, where he was recognized with five teaching awards. He served as an associate dean and associate provost before becoming provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2002.
From 1982 to 1987, Zeppos practiced law in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Justice and at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. He has written widely on legislation, administrative law and profes-sional responsibility. He served as chair for the Scholars Committee, advising the Senate and the American Bar Association on the confirmation of Justice Stephen Breyer, and as chair of the Rules Advisory Committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Zeppos is married to Lydia Ann Howarth. They have two sons, Benjamin, 21, and Nicholas, 18.
“This great university has come so far, so fast,” said Martha Ingram, chairman of the Board of Trust, “and the principal reason is Nick’s enormous intellect, his great vision, and his tireless commitment.”
Zeppos called his appointment the second best thing that happened that week. “Beating Tennessee was the best thing,” he added. The Vanderbilt men’s basketball team beat the No. 1-ranked University of Tennessee 72-69 on Feb. 29.
More about Zeppos and his vision for Vanderbilt will appear in the summer issue of Vanderbilt Magazine.
Find out more: www.vanderbilt.edu/chancellor
© 2015 Vanderbilt University
Conversation guidelines: Vanderbilt Magazine welcomes your thoughts, stories and information related to this article. Please stay on topic and be respectful of others. Keep the conversation appropriate for interested readers across the map.