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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

March 2016

Reflections on our Graduate and Professional Student Community

Dear colleagues,

In fall 2015, approximately 12,600 students enrolled at Vanderbilt. Of these, approximately 5,700 (45%) were seeking degrees in our graduate and professional programs. While four of our schools and colleges award undergraduate degrees, faculty in all ten schools and colleges are training graduate and/or professional students. Graduate and professional students are central to the university’s learning missions and ensure Vanderbilt’s standing as an elite research university. This spring we have many reasons to reflect on this student community. Both here, and once they leave our campus, these students are making a difference in the world through their discoveries and leadership.

Our graduate and professional students, as a whole, constitute one of the most intellectually engaged and diverse groups on campus, bringing important perspectives to their roles as scholars, teachers, mentors, researchers and colleagues. What is our strategic vision for offering truly innovative opportunities for this group of Vanderbilt students?

At many universities, graduate and professional programs remain organized in highly discipline-centered fashions. Aspects of this are critical to ensure the depth of excellence required for future career success in the humanities, theology, creative arts, social sciences, law, medicine, business, engineering, education and life and physical sciences. However, our faculty also recognize that tackling and solving the pressing problems facing society requires actively forging trans-institutional bridges; be this through the Cross-College teaching initiative and/or the Trans-institutional Programs. Thus, we must develop even better ways to allow our graduate and professional programs to take advantage of our trans-institutional strengths.

One very recent example is the newly launched Center for Digital Humanities with support from the Mellon Foundation. The center will offer new training opportunities and fellowships for graduate students. In addition, new graduate and professional student partnerships will also be emerging in the coming year with the opening of the Innovation Center.

With the newly appointed Dean of the Graduate School Mark Wallace and the recently released New Vision for Graduate Education report, we are also poised to build infrastructure that will bring our graduate and professional students together in ways that will further enrich their time at Vanderbilt. Going back to the 2014 Academic Strategic Plan, there was a call for considering graduate and professional student housing. With the ongoing land use planning initiative, should we consider a “Commons” and residential living-learning for graduate and professional students?


Recommendations from the New Vision for Graduate Education Report

  1. Expand professional development opportunities ranging from business skills, writing, teaching skills, presentation skills, interviewing and entrepreneurial exposure
  2. Offer more options for housing, counseling, financial support services and graduate fellowships
  3. Harness the power of data by ramping up collection and analysis efforts on recruitment, admissions, student performance, student productivity and program outcomes
  4. Create special programs to reward exceptional scholarship, recognize the faculty role in graduate education and more

For the full list and details, see the report.

The move of the Graduate School to Alumni Hall is an important step in enhancing the campus community. Housed in a recently renovated, centrally located building with multiple gathering places for students, this site will create opportunities for students to come together for workshops, seminars and meetings. The New Vision report’s recommendations will guide investments in the days ahead for Dean Wallace and the deans of all of the schools and colleges. All our efforts are aimed at preparing our students for careers in a very dynamic and changing world.

Amidst this optimism, we must also reflect on the recent international terrorist attacks that resulted in the loss of one student and two alumni of our Owen Graduate School of Management. They each represented the very finest of Vanderbilt – Taylor Force, a West Point graduate, veteran and budding entrepreneur and MBA student, whose life was needlessly cut short while overseas studying entrepreneurism in Israel; and Brussels bombing victims, Justin and Stephanie Shults. The Shults’ met at Owen and were living abroad enjoying early success in their international business careers. Justin was also an undergraduate alumnus of the College of Arts and Science. My heart goes out to their families and friends as well to our Vanderbilt community.

As we work together to continue building the very best programs for our graduate and professional students, we do so knowing that this is critical to advance learning and discovery, and to educate future leaders to address today’s most pressing problems. With these efforts, we hope to one day see a world where such senseless tragedies cease to exist.




Susan R. Wente

Other News

Vanderbilt partners with LaunchTN to support student startup pitch competitions

Campus encouraged to participate in Blackboard feedback survey

Research Internet to expand tenfold



Previous Open Dore Issues

In case you missed it….

The True Value of Creativity and the Liberal Arts – February 2016

New Year, New Hires, New Perspectives – January 2016

Looking Ahead to 2016 – December 2015

A Message on Diversity and Inclusion – November 2015

One VU to the World – October 2015

On Location Update – September 2015

The Feedback Loop – August 2015

The Discovery ROI – May 2015

Strategic Decisions for Strategic Impact – April 2015

New Leaders and Calls for All to Engage – March 2015

A Culture Powered by Ideas – February 2015

Welcome to the First Issue of The Open Dore – January 2015

Check out the latest dates, times and locations.

Faculty and staff are invited to attend informal discussion sessions held at locations across campus.

Graduate School Opens in Alumni Hall/New Vision Report Released


“The move, along with strategic investments guided by the report, will serve to position Vanderbilt on the cutting edge of graduate education in today’s fast-changing and dynamic professional world. These efforts are critical as we look to recruit the best graduate students and to support them while they are here.”   – said Provost Susan Wente.

Campus Climate Survey: The Graduate/Professional Student Findings


To better inform the university in addressing the needs of all students, the executive summary on the campus climate survey on sexual assault/sexual misconduct provides a breakdown of the results for graduate and professional students, in addition to undergraduates. You can access the executive summary here to compare the experiences of the two groups.


Beginning in the fall 2016, Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response will become a limited confidential resource. Read more here.

Mellon Foundation awards $1.5 million for new Digital Humanities Center


The trans-institutional initiative will further our goal to becoming a national hub of innovative digital humanities scholarship. Faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will have funding opportunities through new competitive Mellon Fellowships in the Digital Humanities. 

Micro-grants available for digital equipment for innovative projects


VIDL is accepting proposals for funding of up to $500 for faculty and staff with preference given to requests for the purchase of digital equipment to aid with innovative projects in teaching or research.

New professional development resources available

Through Vanderbilt’s institutional membership, all faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars have access to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, which provides professional development, training and mentoring. Click here for more info.


COACHE Faculty Survey

Don’t forget to complete the COACHE survey of faculty job satisfaction by APRIL 17.

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