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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2018

Committee Reports: Always Moving Forward, Never Standing Still

Dear colleagues,

As final exams and all assignments are coming due for the term, we are all putting forth maximum energy to finish strong. I appreciate everyone working together on behalf of all our students. This time of year there are also a number of academic working groups, task forces and strategy planning committees putting finishing touches on drafts of their reports, proposals and plans. As such are finalized, the committees are eager to share their efforts with the campus community. Indeed, you will notice a recent flurry of report postings in MyVU for Provost and university areas. To name a few of the initiatives:

These efforts reflect deep engagement of stakeholders across campus in our future direction as a university. Moreover, the work is essential to ensuring we are on the cutting edge, prepared for the future and meeting the needs of our community. At the Vanderbilt Student Government annual leadership transition reception last week, I resonated with the incoming Speaker of the Senate, Sean Swinford’s citing of a Franklin D. Roosevelt quote, “there are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.” Together, we must continue innovating and identifying areas in which to be progressive and forward-looking. It’s what we do best!

As I’ve engaged with many of you over this past semester on various initiatives, I am often asked, “what happens next after a report or proposal is submitted?” Over the past four years, we have developed a transparent process for considering recommendations and implementing action plans that are sustainable. This includes:

  • To be or not to be an initiative: Initiatives are identified in a variety of ways. Many come from the Academic Strategic Plan. For example, the plan calls for expanding the residential college system and developing a cohesive programmatic vision for our residential colleges. International engagement was also identified as a “cross-cutting theme” in the strategic plan and, at the time of crafting, we realized this would require a more in-depth analysis. Sometimes, initiatives start as a partnership with the Office of the Chancellor, like our campaign on mental health and well-being. Other times, initiatives are launched based on feedback from the deans, faculty groups or in partnership with the Faculty Senate, like the effort on shared governance. Finally, some emerge from a set of independent TIPs proposals that reveal a convergence of faculty interest in a given effort (be on the look out for the Data Science Visions Working Group report, coming soon.)
  • Ready set go: Next, my office works with the deans and Faculty Senate Executive Committee, as well as self-nominees, to invite a collective set of committee members that will provide broad campus representation across multiple demographics, perspectives and applicable disciplines. Finally, the committee is charged with requested deliverables and a timeline; all of which is shared through communications in MyVU articles and website postings.
  • Let’s get to work: These initiatives may involve a range of work – from in-depth peer school assessments, to taking stock of Vanderbilt’s assets in a given area, to developing a pedagogical framework. Committee efforts sometimes take an academic year (sometimes more) to complete, whereas others might require a couple months with an aggressive set of meetings with coincident outreach efforts.
  • From plan to real progress: When a report is submitted, the deans and other stakeholders are updated, and it is shared with the university community (generally through MyVU postings). For some, the recommendations are moved forward to the next level of approval (the E. Bronson Ingram Hall namings required approval of the Chancellor and Board of Trust). Other reports require identifying collaborative efforts and resources for next steps. For example, the International Strategy Working Group called for a number of administrative improvements to facilitate international research, and I was happy to report that several of those enhancements were underway. To create action plans, we take into account resource considerations including funding, bandwidth, logistics and legal implications. We also see how they are aligned with other ongoing initiatives and university priorities. Depending on the scope, these action plans take additional time to develop. Sometimes recommendations need adjustments to fit certain needs. And at times, some are found to be unworkable due to specific circumstances or resource availability.
  • Communication is key: Along the way, we aim to engage the Vanderbilt community and ensure information is openly available online. As a baseline, MyVU stories are posted at the launch of an effort and at the time of the report submission. Additional stories follow as new actions are announced. I also communicate to the committee and others as needed for follow up and feedback on the progress. I encourage you to visit these sites to follow progress on initiatives of interest, and see the memberships of past and current committees:

If you have any suggestions or feedback on the processes noted above, please let me know. It has been a busy year (or two, or three, or four) with a number of plans being rolled out. I look forward to our continued collaborative efforts to innovate and lead. My tremendous gratitude to the many who have either served on committees or offered input along the way. Your contributions are invaluable and will ensure that Vanderbilt will reach its potential now and, importantly, in the years ahead.


Susan R. Wente


In case you missed it …

Budget Season Begins Again

Tone at the Top: Fostering a Culture of Respect for Women and for All

Building for the Future

Reflecting Forward From 2017 to 2018

SkyVU: Ready for Landing?

Education Technologies: Transforming Discovery and Learning

All past issues


Vanderbilt moves forward in planning process for future academic capital investments

Faculty invited to apply for micro-grants to explore connections between sports, society

Todd Weinman to lead new University Counseling Center

Sitaraman named Carnegie Fellow to support research into democracy

Vanderbilt board chairman commits $20 million gift to bolster undergraduate residential experience, engineering leadership

New residential faculty to join E. Bronson Ingram College, The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons

Vanderbilt invests further in faculty as committees explore options for multiuse facility

Kathleen Gould wins SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Three Vanderbilt A&S professors awarded 2018 Guggenheim Fellowships

Six academic leaders honored at Spring Faculty Assembly

Vanderbilt appoints committee, advisory firm for graduate and professional student village

Healthy Minds Working Group releases recommendations

Barone named to lead role in International Student Programs

Johnson reappointed dean of Owen Graduate School of Management

Faculty input requested at Research IT town halls April 16 and 25

New effort certification tool launches

Join Provost Wente on Monday, May 14, 4 p.m., at the Central Library Community Room.

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

The Committee for Enhancing Faculty Voices in the Public Sphere has released a report that offers a trio of proposals to elevate Vanderbilt’s national and global profile while helping inform a public hungry for expert knowledge. Read more.

Advancements in Research IT
The Research IT Service was developed out of recommendations from the Research IT Special Project Working Group. The service provides research consultation and technical solutions to research-driven information technology problems, connecting researchers with support services. Learn more.
Lindsey Fox serves as a research IT consultant to facilitate the development and adoption of research IT services. Fox helps working group members produce, manage and implement programs and services geared to increase the success and support of research IT on campus. Get in touch with her via email.

Deerfield Management, Vanderbilt announce launch of Ancora Innovation
Deerfield Management and Vanderbilt University recently announced the launch of Ancora Innovation, LLC, a Deerfield company that will support Vanderbilt’s innovative life science research and leverage Deerfield’s expertise in accelerating state-of-the-art drug development. The inaugural request for proposals for Ancora has also been announced.

A weekly workshop offering insights from faculty for faculty. For more information, click HERE.

Up Next: Principles of Dialogue Workshop
Friday, May 4, 8:30 – 11 a.m., Kissam 210

New initiatives announced to boost Vanderbilt’s international reach, profile
To bolster Vanderbilt’s international impact and visibility, the provost has announced strategic initiatives designed to strengthen the university’s global reach—a global visiting scholars program, streamlined and updated administrative processes, and a strategic framework for amplified cross-college coordination.

What can a finch teach us about language?
Is the mystery of human speech hidden in the song of a finch? Vanderbilt researchers in the Music, Mind and Society TIPs program are analyzing the songs of zebra finches to study the development and nuance of spoken language. Learn more in this fascinating VUBreakThru blog post written by Ph.D. candidate Kate T. Snyder. Read more about TIPs grants and other internal faculty funding programs—including University Courses, Discovery Grants and Research Scholar Grants—at the VU BreakThru blog.

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


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