Building for the Future
Nashville is booming, and so is Vanderbilt. Living here, we’ve all become accustomed to seeing large construction cranes dotting the skyline. And over the past two years, more of these cranes are popping up on our campus. These reflect exciting investments being made in our community and in our academic research and teaching missions, and are dramatic signals of our significant forward momentum.
Five of our schools as well as the Jean and Alexander Heard Library have building projects underway or recently completed:
In addition, Peabody College is in planning stages for renovations to some of its historic buildings, which will support undergraduate and graduate education as well as research.
The university is also embarking on two separate strategic master planning processes, one focusing broadly on the humanities as well as the College of Arts and Science buildings in the historic core of campus, and another on trans-institutional sciences and engineering programs. Both the humanities and the sciences at Vanderbilt transcend disciplinary as well as school and college boundaries—some of the most exciting and innovative collaborations take place at the intersection of these boundaries. By holistically examining these physical spaces, we are positioned to build on our strengths and to act upon opportunities for strategic investments as they arise across the next decade or more.
All of these projects share a common goal – to enhance and elevate discovery and learning at Vanderbilt. The work is guided by principles set forth by the Academic Strategic Plan, FutureVU, and, in the case of humanities efforts, the Chancellor’s Humanities Committee 2017 report. For all of these efforts, there will be ample opportunities for the campus community to offer feedback.
Looking beyond the schools and colleges, we continue to make progress on our commitment to providing a singular undergraduate residential education experience that fosters community through living-learning experiences. Additional residential colleges are necessary to achieve our goal of providing these experiences to all students: E. Bronson Ingram Residential College will open in the fall 2018; we launched construction in mid-December for a residential college at the corner of West End and 25th Avenue; and further planning is underway for residential colleges that will replace the Carmichael Towers. Key to the success of these residential colleges are staff and the faculty in residence.
The Dean of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and the ten faculty heads of house play pivotal roles in shaping the experience of first year students. We’ve successfully built upon that model at Warren and Moore Residential Colleges, where faculty directors help advance the goals for residential learning for upper class students. Our living-learning communities like McTyeire and Mayfield are also guided and enlivened by faculty mentors. These carefully planned and engaged residential communities create a shared experience that is welcoming, inclusive and transformative. To follow the build out of our residential colleges and to learn how faculty can get involved, visit our new website.
Planning is also underway to develop residential experiences for graduate and professional students. The goal is to develop a distinct neighborhood that fosters a sense of community. A working group spent the last academic year engaging with stakeholders and surveyed students on this topic. The next step is to work with a consulting group to analyze the working group and survey feedback, and to identify an ideal location for this “graduate village.”
Also part of FutureVU is the beautification project for the entire West End neighborhood, which comprises the area between 25th Avenue, West End Avenue, West Side Row and Vanderbilt Place. As the neighborhood is transformed into a more park-like setting we will advance our vision for creating more inclusive and welcoming spaces for engagement.
When seen as a whole, all of this work reflects a pivotal moment in the university’s history. We are infusing our spaces and buildings with intentional, creative and bold capacity for learning and discovery that will support and inspire future generations of faculty, staff and students. It is important to note that none of this work would be possible without the significant and transformative gifts from our philanthropic partners.
To keep everyone updated on the numerous projects, we launched an Academic Affairs capital projects webpage. In addition, I encourage you to visit the FutureVU website, which outlines our campus land use principles and strategy.
Susan R. Wente
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