Summer Restoration and Reflection
Summertime is upon us and it is worth reflecting on everything we accomplished over the last year. Inevitably, it is also a time to turn our attention to new projects. The change of pace offered by the summer almost always involves a shift of gears. For some, new graduate and professional curriculums launch; for others, the focus turns to research and scholarship. It is often a time to renew our facilities and classrooms. For the Provost’s Office, the summer months provide time to critically assess the way we do things, determine best practices and identify innovative ways to become more efficient. It is also a time to review strategic planning reports and develop action and implementation plans for the future. If we aren’t careful, summers can be busier than the academic year!
As this newsletter takes a publishing break until August, I offer the following thoughts for your summer reflection.
1) Join our new students in their summer readings. The 2018-19 Commons Reading for the incoming first-year undergraduate class is The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt. All ~1,600 new students and their 184 student and faculty VUCeptor mentors will read the book this summer in preparation for fall discussions surrounding wellbeing and mental health. Concepts of self-discovery, virtue and fulfillment are woven together by Haidt as he examines happiness from the perspectives of historians, religious leaders and modern psychological research. Having read the book myself, it offers multiple ideas worth thinking about by all members of our community.
The Graduate School will also continue its popular reading program for 2018-19 with The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf. This award-winning biography of the 18th-19thcentury naturalist documents Humboldt’s countless adventures and observations and offers a fusion of nature, science and history. There are multiple opportunities to reflect on how Humboldt’s influence continues to impact society across multiple disciplines. This book is on my summer reading list! Our Jean and Alexander Heard Library system also offers summer hours and cool, quiet places to visit and find your own topic of interest to explore.
2) Reflect on your own best practices related to your health and wellbeing. There are multiple ways to try new routines and infuse wellness practices into the work day – and not just during the summer. A few ideas to consider:
- Take time for walks during the work day. Vanderbilt is a national arboretum, and you can download tours on your phone.
- Infuse meditation and mindfulness or desk exercises into your day, or head to the Rec center for a quick workout.
- Grab an Ofo bike and cruise around campus.
- Attend a Vandy Cooks cooking lesson on a lunch break.
- Take your lunch or work outside.
And remember that Vanderbilt’s Health and Wellness office has a host of resources for faculty and staff designed to boost your well-being. Activities like these can lead to increased concentration, reduced stress, creativity boosts and improved memory function. As for myself, for my daily commute to the office, I have committed to walking to and from my home several times a week – you just might see me crossing Blakemore to enter campus from Dragon Park.
As for the health and wellbeing of our students and postdoctoral fellows, this summer, the University Counseling Center (UCC) will launch and a new Office of Student Care Coordination and Student Care Network will be established to help students access all the resources available.
Finally, many of you have planned summer vacations, “stay-cations,” or are taking advantage of the university’s flex work policies. At the end of June, I will take a week off with my husband Chris to hike in a national park. It is essential to find time for the work-life balance and re-energize both mind and body, through reading something new or trying a different routine.
This past academic year was filled with major accomplishments and important breakthroughs and I’m extremely proud of all that you have accomplished. Achieving these goals requires tremendous energy; so, whether on campus or off, let’s all use the summer to restore, reflect and rejuvenate.
Thank you for everything you do to advance the mission of the university.
Susan R. Wente
Emilie M. Townes reappointed as dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School
Provost-appointed committee releases programmatic vision for residential colleges
FutureVU releases comprehensive vision for development of campus
10 faculty proposals funded through new Library Collections Initiative
Four from Vanderbilt named as SEC Academic Leadership fellows
Vanderbilt hosts digital humanities workshop
Vanderbilt University honors 22 as emeriti faculty
Vanderbilt honors 2018 Founder’s Medalists
External funding database transition June 30; training session set for May 23
Vanderbilt included among America’s Best Employers by ‘Forbes’
Vanderbilt sees increase in Fulbright U.S. Student Program awardees and alternates
Crowd honors eight new endowed chair recipients
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In case you missed it …
Committee Reports: Always Moving Forward, Never Standing Still
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?
All past issues