Shared Spaces, Shared Values, Shared Initiatives
It’s officially a new academic year and I am excited to welcome all the new students and faculty to campus. We have much to look forward to with special focuses on our shared spaces, shared values and shared initiatives. Together, all our efforts will enrich our community.
Over the summer, we made substantial progress on planning for new spaces and put the finishing touches on several new academic buildings and renovations. Looking beyond the need for more classroom or research space, it is our shared core values and commitments to collaboration, innovation, diversity and inclusion that drive the design of all new building projects. Through FutureVU, much thought goes into thinking about how our physical environments foster team work, engagement and social connections.
The School of Nursing expansion was designed with the goal of increasing faculty-student interactions. The Divinity School renovation will have more space for musical events and group worship or meetings. The Eskind Biomedical Library and Learning Center now features inviting study spaces for students to gather. And the upcoming Peabody College renovation will include a café where students, faculty and staff can gather. The new E. Bronson Ingram Residential College is no exception. With features like a great room and a dining hall, it was designed around core principles tied to creating living-learning communities that embrace diverse perspectives and extend learning beyond the classroom through bonds between faculty, staff and students.
These shared spaces encourage all members of our community to come together in countless ways. While our physical spaces can foster engagement, our shared values extend well beyond the brick and mortar walls and permeate all corners of campus.
As Provost, I am committed to having living, learning and working environments that promote a sense of belonging, afford the opportunity for all to be successful and are free from harassment, discrimination and bigotry of any kind. Vanderbilt embraces civil discourse based on the premise that all should be respected and included. Fostering a community where all are welcome and invited to engage is essential to our ability to achieve our discovery and learning missions.
The recent racist email attack reminds us that we must always remain vigilant in our commitment to these shared values and creating an inclusive and welcoming community.
Over the past few years, we have implemented a number of initiatives and practices that advance these shared values and serve to raise awareness about the role our individual identities play in our interactions and daily lives. Efforts range from the Center for Teaching guides for “populations and contexts” to adding an opportunity for students to designate their pronouns in the YES class rolls. Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt is continuing to spearhead other faculty and student inclusive excellence initiatives. Last week, in collaboration with Mark Bandas, Dean of Students, she started monthly round table meetings to discuss issues facing students regarding equity, diversity and inclusion. The series is also designed to connect students with campus resources.
I am also most pleased to welcome James E. Page, Jr. as a new Vice Chancellor colleague who will advance staff engagement, communications and resources for best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion.
Of note, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center with special celebration events being held throughout the fall semester. As we reflect on this milestone and the action items from the COACHE faculty satisfaction survey, I am pleased to announce that I am officially launching the planning process for a Provost’s initiative on the status of women at Vanderbilt University. The initiative will consider issues facing the broad array of women faculty, students and postdoctoral trainees in my Academic Affairs areas.
With feedback from the university community over the next couple of weeks, I will define the composition of an initiative steering committee to be charged with considering several potential thematic areas of interest for study and action on behalf of our women faculty, students and trainees. Such themes and actions might include a separate confidential climate survey and assessments of our academic environments for women. Other areas for exploration are a gender pay equity and academic support analysis, gap analysis of faculty promotion and mentoring, investments in raising awareness through programming, interventional strategies to strengthen climate and culture and changes to our organizational structures that will help sustain our progress on the status of women at Vanderbilt University.
This will be a community-driven initiative with broad input and I will be working with the Faculty Senate, the deans of the schools and colleges and all our campus partners. I specifically want your feedback during this planning process for the initiative. If you have suggestions on areas of focus or simply questions for a committee to consider please use this form which will allow you to share your thoughts anonymously.
In the meantime, as this planning gets underway and we begin the academic year, let’s remember our shared values and celebrate what makes us each unique and the individual contribution we each make to our community. We are truly better together.
Susan R. Wente
Provost celebrates community, immersion opportunities for Class of 2022
Vanderbilt Data Science Institute launched
New copyright policy provides guidance on posting materials to course management systems
Kimball named director of the Undergraduate Business Minor
New leaders appointed to enhance research support, development
Diversity leader James E. Page Jr. named vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion
Vanderbilt begins search for next VIRG executive director
Seven faculty awarded Sports and Society microgrants
Wente reorganizes provost office
Renovated Eskind library opens, prepared to support training of future generations of physicians
Doug Schmidt named associate provost for research development and technologies
Thomas-Hunt named faculty director for Moore College
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Tone at the Top: Fostering a Culture of Respect for Women and for All
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