T.J. Stiles won the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for his book The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Stiles, who is also the author of Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, served as historical adviser and on-screen expert for two films in the PBS documentary series American Experience. He launched the 2010–11 Chancellor’s Lecture Series at Vanderbilt last fall with “The Commodore’s Patriotism: Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Path to the Founding of Vanderbilt University.”
Kate Daniels, associate professor of English, was named winner of the 2011 Hanes Award for Poetry by the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She is the author of four books of poetry, including her most recent, A Walk in Victoria’s Secret, as well as The White Wave, The Niobe Poems and Four Testimonies. Born and raised in Richmond, Va., Daniels has spent much of her teaching career in the South: three years each at the University of Virginia and Louisiana State, and 15 years at Vanderbilt.
Gary Gerson, BS’85, has been at Cranbrook Schools in Michigan for 24 years, teaching physics and geology and serving for a time as head football coach. He recently published his first book, Scoring Points: Love and Football in the Age of AIDS (www.lulu.com). Gerson and his wife, Shelley, have been married 20 years and have three children: Maddie, 9; Eli, 7; and Isaac, 4. He misses Nashville and Waffle House, but loves the Midwest and Coney Island diners. He would love to hear from old classmates and teammates from the glory days at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Wait is dean of the Blair School of Music, where he is holder of the Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair and professor of music. He currently is serving a three-year term as vice president of the National Association of Schools of Music, to be followed by a three-year term as president. As a concert pianist, Wait has presented more than 200 concerts in 25 states.
Sloane Speakman is a junior in the College of Arts and Science. Since her study abroad in Cairo was interrupted by political turmoil in January, she has enrolled for the semester at Hebrew University in Tel Aviv. An Ingram Scholar, Speakman has been involved since high school in efforts to assist refugee populations, and in 2009 she was interim volunteer coordinator for the Sudanese Community and Women’s Services Center. She serves as one of the directors of philanthropy for Vanderbilt Model United Nations and is on the board of directors for Project AP, which delivers medical supplies to villages in southeast India.
Additional Contributors: Skip Anderson, Carole Bartoo, Maria Browning, Brenda Ellis, Angela Fox, Kara Furlong, Leslie Hill, Nancy Humphrey, MiChelle Jones, Princine Lewis, Irene McKirgan, Melanie Moran, Dwayne O’Brien, Ann Marie Deer Owens, Jim Patterson, Kathy Rivers, Jeremy Rush, David F. Salisbury, Fiona Soltes, Dagny Stuart, Cindy Thomsen, Ryan Underwood, David McKay Wilson, Amy Wolf
© 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.