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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2017

Investing in Our Future

Dear colleagues,

As one of the nation’s leading research institutions, investing in graduate education and research is of utmost importance. With federal budget proposals cutting back on funding across all disciplines, and during an era when discovery and learning are, as the Chancellor recently noted, “under attack,” many of our peer institutions are tightening the purse strings. We are, however, renewing our commitment. Over the next several years, we will be building a $300 million endowment to enhance Vanderbilt’s excellence in graduate education and research.

As the Chancellor announced at the 2017 Spring Faculty Assembly on April 6, we will establish:

  • an endowment to create new graduate Ph.D. scholarships
  • an endowment to support graduate student career development
  • an endowment to launch and sustain global engagement, and interdisciplinary and trans-institutional research
  • a matching endowment to create new endowed chairs and faculty fellows

These general categories for investment were identified through a multi-pronged process with input from all schools and colleges. Given the transformative nature of these initiatives, I believe it is important to review how the categories were identified and how we will further develop and refine the plans.

The Chancellor first announced this commitment at the 2016 Fall Faculty Assembly and then asked me to launch a process for gathering feedback on how to deploy investments. As announced in December, each school and college dean created a faculty-based process within their unit. In a rapid-cycle, this generated nine independent sets of recommendations. Additional input was then gathered from two important graduate education stakeholder groups: the Graduate Faculty Council and the Graduate Student Council.

In January, I charged an ad hoc committee to deliberate—at an institutional level—on the input submitted by the schools and colleges, particularly considering the following: 1) What actions or strategies will have the most impact 10 years from now? 2) How will this achieve excellence versus “spreading the peanut butter?” 3) How will the strategy ensure accountability? 4) How will the strategy support our Academic Strategic Plan and our efforts in equity, diversity and inclusion? The ad hoc committee then recommended the four general thematic categories listed above for priority investment that would enable inclusive, broad-based actions focused on building excellence. Their brief report will soon be posted on the Provost web site.

So, what comes next? Over the summer, I will work with the deans to draft an implementation process to further refine the plans. The future of our efforts in global engagement and interdisciplinary research will also be greatly informed by the forthcoming report from the International Strategy Working Group. I am impressed with how broadly the co-chairs Ingrid Wuerth and Ted Fischer, and the committee members are engaging with the entire campus community to create their recommendations – from town halls to brain-storm lunches to faculty surveys.

Importantly, the final designs for graduate Ph.D. scholarship and education programs, along with new research initiatives, will be developed through faculty, staff and student working groups. These working groups will be assembled this coming fall – please write to me directly if you want to volunteer to be involved. I will host a town hall at the beginning of the fall semester to kick off this in-depth design phase and charge the working groups.

By building an endowment of $300M for graduate education and research, the Chancellor is making an inspired and unprecedented commitment to our faculty, students and staff. Moreover, the work of faculty, staff and student design committees over the next couple years will lay the foundation for the future of our institution. It is truly an exciting time to be at Vanderbilt!



Susan R. Wente

Other News

Ingram family honors father with $20 million gift to Vanderbilt’s College Halls

Students recognized for eye-catching data visualizations

Exhibition to share life lessons on African American seniors

SkyVU leaders update community on project, provide training timeline

Vanderbilt, peer institutions continue opposition of travel ban, file new amicus brief

See photos from March 20 TIPs Fair and Reception

Inaugural DIVE Boot Camp immerses participants in human-centered design

New building expansion planned for Vanderbilt School of Nursing

Students, administrators discuss West End Neighborhood planning at Chancellor’s Town Hall

Join Provost Wente on May 16, 4 pm in the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center Auditorium

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

Faculty Unionization Efforts: FAQs and Updates from the Provost

The university has created a website to provide full and complete information and to ensure open dialogue on this important issue.

Center for Teaching Announces Brightspace Release

Brightspace is now available for instructors planning summer and fall courses. Brightspace replaces Blackboard as Vanderbilt’s course management system starting this summer.  Click here to login with your VUnetID and explore the new system. For more information visit the Center for Teaching’s support site for on-demand resources, such as tutorials and walkthroughs, and upcoming Brightspace training sessions. CFT staff are available on request to come to departments and schools to provide introductions to Brightspace or tailored orientation sessions.

Research IT Working Group Launched

The Research IT Special Project Working Group will operate under the auspices of the Provost’s Initiative to Enhance Research and Scholarship, or PIERS, and will pursue key recommendations put forth last year by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Research IT. The group will focus on three categories of IT resources: basic research IT, middle-ware research IT and advanced research IT core facilities.

Previous Open Dore Issues

In case you missed it….

An Every-10-Year Tradition: Our Reaffirmation of Accreditation – March 2017

The COACHE Survey: Be Informed about Faculty Satisfaction – February 2017

The January Jumpstart – January 2017

All past issues

Office of the Provost  |  vanderbilt.edu/provost

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