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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

December 2017

Reflecting Forward – from 2017 to 2018

Dear colleagues,

The winter break is soon upon us, bringing 2017 to a close. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon some of our accomplishments this past calendar year.

Just consider that this year, all four undergraduate schools approved Immersion Vanderbilt as a degree requirement. This accomplishment required significant campus engagement and is an exciting move toward our strategic goals of enhancing the undergraduate experience. Beginning in fall 2018, all entering students will now complete an immersive, within-and-beyond-the-classroom experience that will not only shape their future career paths, but also allow our students to gain additional skills on how to tackle important problems. While many of our students currently have these opportunities, the formal requirement will ensure that ALL have the opportunity to do so and that they have the support necessary to complete a meaningful immersion project.

Our innovations and commitment to excellence was acknowledged formally this December with our reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACCOCS). SACCOCS found Vanderbilt compliant on all 98 regulations and offered no recommendations for improving our Quality Enhancement Plan. Such an outcome is practically unprecedented! I take this as a strong validation of both the educational experience we offer and our dedication to mission. I want to extend a very heartfelt THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to all who helped to make that happen. Never has our collaborative One Vanderbilt spirit been more evident.

More accolades were showered upon us this year from Reuters who recognized Vanderbilt as the #10 most innovative university. We also moved up the U.S. News and World Report Rankings to #14 amongst the best national universities, and faculty with appointments in our School of Medicine collectively received more NIH funding than all but 7 other medical institutions in the country! Our business, divinity, education, graduate, law and nursing schools also continue to do very well in national rankings, underscoring the many strengths of Vanderbilt.

The quality of our faculty is clearly reflected by the increase in the number of endowed chair holders, which in 2017 reached over 400. This is more than double the number a decade ago! And 200 times more than 100 years ago when in 1918 the first two endowed chairs were established at Vanderbilt.

These many achievements are the result of our continuing commitment to excellence. Some accomplishments, like Immersion Vanderbilt, are the result of efforts launched just a few years ago, whereas others speak to our momentum developed over years and even decades.

We are all working diligently to continue our upward trajectory and to develop additional opportunities that advance our academic strategic plan. We announced the bold, new investment in graduate education and research which, through scholarships, a leadership institute and other initiatives, will help us attract the best graduate students and will enhance our ability to recruit and retain the best faculty. We launched the Office of Inclusive Excellence with our new Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt, and began implementing FutureVU; a comprehensive land use plan designed to ensure proper stewardship of our spaces and resources. In addition, the International Strategy Working Group and the Chancellor Committee for the Humanities released their reports that include recommendations to inspire other efforts to distinguish Vanderbilt.

Sometimes, it can be hard to see all that we have achieved given some of the challenges that we encountered this year. From federal tax reform and immigration policy, to natural and man-made disasters, several events have required considerable attention, effort and reaffirmation of our values. In reflection, we have not allowed these developments to detract us from working together to make important innovations that advance discovery and learning.

As we prepare for 2018, I want to ensure all that the university is in an incredibly strong position and all the schools and colleges are very well positioned to capitalize on the momentum. I look forward to working with you all as we identify exciting ways to advance the important missions of Vanderbilt. I can’t wait to see what new adventures and achievements await us over the next 12 months! And for this past year, thank you for your dedication and support.



Susan R. Wente


In case you missed it….

SkyVU: Ready for Landing?

Education Technologies: Transforming Discovery and Learning

Go Big, Be Bold, Be Vanderbilt

Affirming our values and welcoming all to a new academic year

Special Open Dore Issue: Advocating for Federal Support of Great Research

Greatest Appreciation for our Staff

Investing in our Future

All past issues


International Strategy Working Group issues final report

Vanderbilt receives best possible review and reaffirmation of institutional accreditation

Celebration honors 11 new endowed chair holders

New proposal development program hosts visit from Army Research Lab’s chief scientist to explore faculty partnerships

15 faculty members elected as AAAS fellows

First-generation students find community of support at Vanderbilt

Provost names committee to develop vision for College Halls programming

Join Provost Wente on Tuesday, Jan 16, 4 p.m., Auditorium, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

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

Accepting applications now through Feb. 12, 2018. To apply, click HERE.

Accepting applications now through Jan. 29, 2018. To apply, click HERE.

Vanderbilt University is embarking on discovery and planning processes to chart the institution’s future course for capital planning in the humanities and the sciences.

A weekly workshop offering insights from faculty for faculty.

Up Next: Leadership & Crisis Management: A Workshop for Department Chairs, Program Directors & Associate Deans
Thursday, Jan. 11, 12 – 1 p.m., Sarratt 216/220

Immersion Vanderbilt will become a degree requirement for all incoming first-year students starting in fall 2018, all incoming sophomore transfer students starting in fall 2019, and all junior transfer students starting in fall 2020. This initiative follows on the heels of the four undergraduate schools’ formal review and approval of Immersion Vanderbilt during the last calendar year. Read more.

Check out the VU BreakThru blog story recapping Associate Professor John Janusek’s research on massive stone sculptures. Janusek’s research was sponsored by a Research Scholar Grant, which allowed him to expand his decades-long research into Tiwanaku, one of the Andes’ earliest cities and an influential religious center. Read more about this project and other internally-funded research initiatives at the VU BreakThru blog.

@VU_Provost : Follow the Provost Office for updates on recent news, upcoming events, hiring announcements and more.

Office of the Provost  |  vanderbilt.edu/provost

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