New Leaders and Calls for All to Engage
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
This summer we will welcome two new Deans – Lauren Benton, incoming Dean of the College of Arts and Science, and Vanessa Beasley, incoming Dean of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons. Of great importance, both were identified and selected through representative processes – with the input of diverse search committees that reflect Vanderbilt’s broad constituencies.
We are so fortunate to have faculty and staff who are willing to step up and serve. As the first Dean of the Commons, Dean Frank Wcislo set a high-bar for this innovative experiment in residential life fostering the expansion of robust living-learning communities. We all deeply appreciate his many years of service.
We are also indebted to Interim Dean John Sloop who has led the College of Arts and Science this past year and ensured continued progress during the transition year.
Looking to the future, Dean Benton and Dean Beasley will be charged to continue moving Vanderbilt forward in excellence. In their past roles, both have seized opportunities to lead and developed innovative solutions to challenges. At New York University, Benton is known for implementing practices that lead to stronger departments, serving faculty students, and staff better. Beasley is recognized for her keen ability to mentor and spur others to find their strengths and passions. Both are exceptional leaders and I’m excited to work with them.
It is clear we have examples of leadership excellence all over campus with the contributions of faculty, staff and students on literally dozens of committees serving to implement and improve the ideals of our forward-looking institution. These instances fit perfectly with our student body – 100 percent of the 2014 enrolled first year class held the highest levels of leadership in their high schools and/or communities. Moreover, our own Chancellor’s Vanderbilt Leadership Academy has fostered the leadership talents of more than 80 faculty and staff members since 2011.
While there are many leadership skills we value, courage is often not cited enough. The recent act of hatred and vandalism at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house calls this trait to mind. We all must demonstrate a willingness to engage and step up under the most difficult of circumstances, like the Vanderbilt Student Government “Talk to Me” campaign. I hope that you will join me in sharing the Chancellor’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity and to ensuring that Vanderbilt is a “community where all feel safe, valued and included.”
We are continually seeking faculty and staff input for initiatives – for example, the upcoming town hall meetings on the ACTION phase of the Academic Strategic Plan. Or, in considering how to further enrich our workplace with the recent campus C.A.R.E. committee events focused on civility, appreciation and respectful environments.
I encourage each of you to engage in our Vanderbilt community. By participating constructively, you advance our culture of collaboration, civility, and creativity. Please volunteer and seize any chance to lead on important issues facing our university. And as you get more involved, reach out and invite other colleagues to join. I stand ready to partner with any and all in efforts to advance Vanderbilt’s core commitments to discovery, learning, and service.