I am so excited to see everyone back on campus. Over the summer, the Provost’s Office has been hard at work – from advancing the Academic Strategic Plan, to implementing new, post-VU-VUMC transition processes to, more generally speaking, assessing, refining and improving how we serve the Vanderbilt community.
In this first newsletter of the academic year, I am eager to share a number of announcements and outline my priority areas of focus for the year.
First, I am pleased to announce that Ifeoma Nwankwo will join my team as Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. She will be dedicated to creating and implementing strategies that ensure broad, inclusive participation in our many programs and efforts – from engaging the humanities in the soon-to-open Innovation Center to helping faculty make connections that will spark ideas for new TIPs proposals.
Associate Provost Nwankwo and Vice Provost John Geer will co-chair a national search for a new Vice Provost of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The committee will be formed in the coming days and they will be charged with soliciting input from across campus to craft the job description and roles for the new Vice Provost. They will then work together to recruit a leader who will work with me and the Deans in bringing the most effective and innovative actions into practice for lasting, positive change.
One recent innovation announced by Dean Mark Bandas and Associate Dean Frank Dobson is the reorganization and expansion the new Office of Social Justice and Identity. The office will bring together several Dean of Students departments, creating synergies amongst programs that foster a sense of belonging and promote understanding and cultural competency.
In the coming weeks, there will be additional opportunities to provide feedback on how Immersion Vanderbilt will be designed, as we roll out drafts of the student handbook and central support model. We will also be sharing a faculty governance proposal with each school to ensure alignment with processes already in place, as well as announcing strategic investments to support this new initiative so as to ensure its success. Immersion Vanderbilt, a centerpiece of the Academic Strategic Plan, will transform undergraduate education at Vanderbilt and will truly make us distinct from our peers.
Lastly, I leave you with a summary of some of my top priorities for this academic year:
- Academic Strategic Plan – We will continue the Action phase of implementation and launch the Impact phase to ensure we are the best stewards of our resources. I encourage all to review the just released August 2016 annual report on our progress, as well as reports released throughout the academic year from the work of faculty, staff, and student committees.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion –Although we made great strides this past year, as summarized in the Provost’s Office Highlights report, the recently released report from the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community sets the stage for new actions and planning. My sincere thanks to the committee chairs and members, and all who gave input. I am excited to work with the deans, faculty, staff and students regarding next steps for improvements in the Academic Affairs areas.
- Faculty Satisfaction – In April, faculty completed the COACHE survey with an exceptional response rate. The COACHE company is now completing analysis of the results and Vice Provost John Geer will be working with a faculty committee and the Faculty Senate to ensure the information is both broadly shared and analyzed to ensure our support for faculty.
- International Strategy – As I outlined in a previous Open Dore letter, this fall, I will be charging a working group to develop recommendations on specifically how we can further our efforts in research, scholarship and creative arts/expression to both bring Vanderbilt to the world, and the world to Vanderbilt. Of note, this working group will not focus on study abroad, a topic already being addressed by Vice Provost Cynthia Cyrus through the FACIE committee and immersion planning.
- Mental Health and Wellness – We are launching an awareness and action campaign to make sure all know they are #valuedatVU and to foster greater mental health awareness, equity and inclusion. Some of the actions include a soon-to-be-formed Chancellor’s Committee, a survey of students regarding mental health, and a series of events, seminars, and forums. This week we will celebrate the opening of the new Center for Student Wellbeing, and I invite all to join the event.
To ensure all have the opportunity to give input, I will again be hosting my Open Dore On Location sessions around campus. Please join me and let me know your thoughts on these and other topics.
Best wishes for a great first month of the fall semester!
Susan R. Wente
Previous Open Dore Issues
In case you missed it….
A Semester of Change – May 2016
Mental Health Awareness: A Role for All – April 2016
Reflections on our Graduate and Professional Student Community – March 2016
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
All past issues
Inaugural Vanderbilt Community Profile provides snapshot of university demographics
Dean of Students expanding diversity, social justice and identity services
New podcast to explore how educational technology can enhance student learning
Faculty Senate elects leadership for 2016-17