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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

January 2017

The January Jumpstart

Dear colleagues,

I love Januarys at Vanderbilt. Maybe it is because of my Iowa upbringing and the love of four true seasons (although this month has seemed more like spring than winter!). This January I am especially energized from the rest and reflection offered by the new winter break and I am ready to jump back in. With the start of the new semester, there are a number of efforts already underway and gaining momentum, and others just launching. I share below highlights that I hope give you even more reason to engage during the new year.

Last week many of us participated in numerous campus events that encouraged us to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and the meaning his messages have for justice and democracy today. At the most recent Chancellor’s Lecture, we also had the opportunity to discuss and consider President Obama’s legacy on race and the nation’s future with the new President Trump. It is critical that we continue engaging and creating ways for all of us to work together. In the new year, consider making time to attend future Chancellor’s Lectures. You may also want to attend spring training sessions hosted by the Dean of Students’ Office of Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence. The Provost Office is proud to directly support these sessions which center around issues of diversity and inclusion to help faculty, staff and students learn how to facilitate difficult conversations about differences.

This week, with the Chancellor’s leadership, we will announce a campus-wide campaign on mental health and well-being called, “GO THERE: Break the Silence, Break the Stigma.” The objective is to foster a culture of openness and inclusive dialogue about mental health and well-being among Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. All are invited to the Chancellor’s town hall on Thursday and to the campaign kick-off event on Friday (see sidebar for details). These are important opportunities to dig a little deeper, hear about faculty research on mental health, learn about campus resources and expand our toolkit for managing our own well-being and for helping others.

The COACHE Faculty Satisfaction Survey Working Group is putting the finishing touches on their preliminary report which, when released in the coming weeks, will analyze and assess the survey results. From there, the working group will host a series of town halls to gather reactions and secure additional feedback. This is a critical step in the process as we work to assess the meaning of the results of the survey and design institution-wide actions. The deans of all schools and colleges are also reviewing the results for their faculty so as to identify initiatives that will advance their respective missions. I encourage you to attend these town halls.

We are also one step closer to developing a set of priorities for investing in Ph.D. graduate education and research. After Chancellor Zeppos announced his plans to establish a major endowment for these areas, I asked each school and college to develop a process for collecting ideas on how to achieve further excellence and propel the university forward. The deans submitted the school/college reports last week, and I’ve now charged a small committee to synthesize the recommendations and identify common priorities.

On Tuesday of this week, many of you attended a forum on Immersion Vanderbilt. If you were unable to attend, another will be held on February 15. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the countless faculty and staff who have helped develop this program, from outlining the initial concept in the 2014 Academic Strategic Plan, to serving on committees at the university, school and college level. Next month we will submit DIVE: Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience for review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). DIVE is the university’s quality enhancement plan that was selected last year as part of a campus-wide process to be part of the university’s ten-year reaffirmation of accreditation. Once implemented, DIVE will create an additional set of immersion opportunities that Vanderbilt undergraduates can pursue.

I am confident that Vanderbilt is continuing to make progress on so many critical dimensions. These gains are based entirely on our collective efforts, from innovations in teaching, to expanding trans-institutional collaborations, to assessing faculty satisfaction, to developing new immersion opportunities. Each of these endeavors is critical to advancing excellence in discovery and learning. I deeply appreciate all of the feedback and input provided to date and as we move forward in 2017. You are truly an inspiring community of scholars, students, researchers, innovators, and professionals. I look forward to continuing this January momentum together throughout the rest of the semester!




Susan R. Wente

Other News

Provost names faculty committee to advise on major investment in graduate education and research

Training around issues of diversity and inclusion offered to Vanderbilt community

Unique exhibition will ‘map’ science and visualize data at four campus locations beginning Jan. 23

Academic Strategic Plan website gets update, highlights key initiatives and programs

Brazil TIPs project may unlock key answers in health care delivery while creating immersive student research opportunities

Vanderbilt receives $20 million gift thanks to Facebook founding engineer and his wife

Previous Open Dore Issues

In case you missed it….

From 2016 to 2017: Next steps for Research and Scholarship at Vanderbilt – December 2016

Next Steps for Immersion Vanderbilt – November 2016

Adding 25 Endowed Chairs and Faculty Investments – October 2016

A uniquely Vanderbilt budget model – September 2016

Welcome Back! – August 2016

All past issues

Three opportunities to help kick-off the campus-wide campaign on mental health and well-being

Community Town Hall with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos
Thur, Jan 26, 10 am, Student Life Center, Board of Trust room

Mental Health and Well-Being Campaign Kickoff Event
Fri, Jan 27, 11 – 2 pm, Student Life Center, ballrooms

Chancellor’s Lecture Series with Kay Redfield Jamison
Tues, Jan 31, 5:30 pm, book signing, lecture 7:30 pm

Learn more.

Join Provost Wente on Feb 14, 4 pm in the Central Library Community Room. 

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

Brightspace to replace Blackboard in Summer 2017

Brightspace features an intuitive interface, a virtual classroom space, and the ability to drag and drop files to course content areas. Learn more. 

University approves new undergraduate business minor

Vanderbilt University’s new trans-institutional undergraduate business minor will launch this fall. The new minor will integrate five required half-semester fundamental courses taught by Owen faculty with electives provided by the undergraduate schools.

Campus Forum on Immersion Vanderbilt


Immersion Vanderbilt, which originated as part of the Academic Strategic Plan, is in the design and development stage. The basic structure will be going through faculty governance for review by the undergraduate schools and colleges.To learn more, come to a community forum Wednesday, Feb 15, 10-11 AM, Kissam Center C210. Register here.

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