A Culture Powered by Ideas
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
During the Academic Strategic Planning process, we asked faculty, students, and staff: What makes Vanderbilt distinctive?
The overwhelming consensus voiced the following: Vanderbilt fosters a distinctive culture characterized by strengths of collaboration, creativity and civility. It is a good time to reflect on these distinctions.
Certainly, many institutions have attributes of one or two of these distinctions- but the convergence of all three defines and shapes our culture at Vanderbilt. Even more importantly, the product of these distinctions results in an innovative culture that fosters the pursuit of ideas that are transformative, diverse, and tackle the grand challenges that face society.
Collaboration – As the problems and questions facing society become more complex, solutions require the expertise of many disciplines, and at times hybrid solutions at the interstices between disciplines. The ideas that will address challenges – from education, to energy and the environment, to health and well being, to global crises, to inequality – will be born from our commitment to a culture of collaboration and trans-institutional discovery and learning. As evidence, the recent first call for Trans-institutional Program proposals encompass the collaborative efforts of over 700 faculty from all ten of our colleges and schools – our One Vanderbilt fosters this collaborative culture. The powerful and transformative ideas generated will chart our future.
Creativity – We are constantly seeking new ways of invigorating and inspiring the academic adventure, and the awards recognizing our creativity are amazing. Congrats to all those highlighted in this past month’s Kudos! The announcement of our inaugural Chancellor Faculty Fellows cohort is a prime example of our recent efforts to be innovative in how we support our faculty members during critical moments of their careers. Immediately post-tenure is an ideal time to encourage faculty members to take risks and to be creative in tackling those big questions and problems that have always intrigued them. We also recently launched a new web site aimed at linking our undergraduates to many research opportunities. I’m excited to work with all of our faculty and students to ensure we all have the room to dream big and unleash our creativity.
Finally, Civility – not just an acceptance or tolerance – but a preference for diversity is key to our culture. By embracing diversity and being exposed to different perspectives, we breed innovation and imagine the great ideas that will shape our futures. This comes strongly from our enhanced efforts in student, staff and faculty diversity across all groups. I encourage all of our faculty and staff to join our students in taking part in the rich culture on campus – from the 2015 Walter R. Murray, Jr. Common Lecture on Thursday Feb 26th to the 2015 Cuninggim Lecture on Women in Culture in Society on Tuesday Mar 24th. Our efforts must embrace ideas that have the potential to profoundly change society and must come from being open-minded and taking action in constructive ways.
Ours is a CULTURE powered by ideas – transformative ideas that are born from our distinctive ability to collaborate in an environment of civility and creativity.
The Academic Strategic Plan seeks to harness the Vanderbilt culture for the benefit of society. More than 40 faculty members gathered earlier this month for a half-day retreat to help plot the ACTION phase of the Academic Strategic Plan. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more regarding the emerging three-year roadmap for the implementation steps and opportunities for continued involvement of all.
Meanwhile, my many thanks to each of you for your commitment and contributions to what makes Vanderbilt distinctive and to powering our culture of ideas.