Affirming our values and welcoming all to a new academic year
This is a special time of year, marked by our welcoming of new students, new faculty and new academic staff to our campus. Now is also an important time for all of us to reflect upon and affirm our university values and our academic mission. We are firmly committed to a campus and community where all are safe, and where all feel welcome and supported. Our efforts together in supporting our values are essential to ensuring a fulfilling and productive 2017-2018 academic year.
As we prepare for these new arrivals, our efforts take on even greater importance in light of the deeply troubling acts of racism and violence in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia. We stand with our colleagues and friends there and reaffirm our deep and unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, mutual respect and civility. The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff are of paramount concern to us. We will continue as a university community to stand against and to denounce in the strongest terms racism, bigotry and discrimination in any form. We value and prioritize diversity and inclusivity on our campus.
Facing these great needs, I am especially thrilled to welcome Melissa Thomas-Hunt to Vanderbilt as our first Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence. Melissa will help lead our efforts in this area by focusing primarily on accelerating and expanding equity, diversity and inclusion efforts, programs and initiatives that affect faculty and students in and out of the classroom. She will also support our numerous efforts to create a safe and welcoming environment for students and faculty. For staff, we work in strong partnership with Tina Smith, Interim Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Together, we will all continue our critical efforts in creating a more inclusive community.
This academic year we will also continue to advance with the Action and Impact Phases of the Academic Strategic Plan. Many of the initiatives like University Courses and Trans-Institutional Programs are now part of the fabric of the university. Others like Immersion Vanderbilt and Educational Technology are taking shape as the schools and colleges each develop their respective plans for launching new, institution-defining initiatives. This fall at the Peabody College for Education and Human Development, the first cohort of students will be enrolled in the new online M.Ed. and Ed.D. programs in partnership with 2U. Dean Camilla Benbow reports that both the interest in the programs and the quality of the inaugural class has surpassed expectations, particularly for the Ed.D., and is coincidentally increasing interest in our on campus programs.
Vanderbilt partnered last year with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) to analyze the results of the spring 2016 Faculty Survey. A Faculty Working Group has compiled a report that summarizes the results and outlines recommendations, and each dean has submitted to me their school/college action plans. In the coming weeks, the COACHE website will be updated and we will share the plans for implementing actions to address the findings.
I am so proud of the collaborative process and high level of engagement we have had across campus on all of these initiatives. I hope you will continue to offer your suggestions as these projects take shape and move forward. I highly value faculty governance and input in all our academic efforts. Some working groups are continuing with their charges from the last academic year, including the Shared Governance Committee; others are launching anew. Please keep your eye on myVU and the Provost website for forthcoming announcements and exciting new stragetic initiatives.
This year I will again be hosting Open Dore on Location around campus and hope to see you there. I am also excited to announce that you can now find the Office of the Provost on Twitter (@VU_Provost). The Twitter feed will regularly feature announcements and newsworthy items as well as updates from events around campus, and I hope you will consider engaging with me on this social media platform.
Finally, we will begin this semester with a historic event for our campus and our city, as we experience the total eclipse of the sun at 1:27 p.m. on Monday August 21. I encourage all to join me from 1-2 p.m. on Alumni Lawn for solar eclipse glasses, entertainment and frozen treats as we gather as a community to witness and mark this natural wonder.
I look forward to our continued work together welcoming, building and supporting our remarkable academic community.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
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Previous Open Dore Issues
In case you missed it….
Special Issue of the Open Dore: Advocating for Federal Support of Great Research – June 2017
Greatest Appreciation for our Staff – May 2017
Investing in our Future – April 2017
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