Spread the Word: From New Online Gateways to New Funding Programs
Searching for answers and information on the internet can sometimes seem like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. I often attempt trial after trial of different search terms and feel like I’m navigating through countless pull down menus. Over the past few years as Provost, a key goal has been to expand and enhance services and support and to increase opportunities for engagement. Now, by working closely with our colleagues in Communications and Digital Strategies, we recently launched two new websites – The Faculty Gateway and Shared Governance at Vanderbilt. The goal for both is to make information easier to find and intuitively organized. By doing so, I hope to spread the word for further transparency, collaboration and inclusivity and to better connect the Vanderbilt community.
The Faculty Gateway is designed to direct those faculty reporting through the Provost’s office to the information they need for research and teaching. It also provides connections to “work/life” resources and includes a section for new faculty. On this site, faculty will learn about upcoming workshops and events and find contacts for media and web services. Instead of needing to know which office manages which program, faculty can turn to this page and be directed quickly based on their interests. The content will always be a work in progress with regular updates. Let me know if you have ideas on how to make the site even better.
The Shared Governance at Vanderbilt portal was recommended by the Shared Governance committee report released in May. The page lays out the broad array of faculty, student and staff councils and advisory bodies at Vanderbilt. As the pieces for this Shared Governance portal were pulled together, it became clear that the university has a truly robust system for gathering feedback from various groups across campus. The faculty voice is heard through the Faculty Senate. Undergraduate students turn to the Vanderbilt Student Government and staff to the University Staff Advisory Council. And through committees at the Chancellor, Provost and school/college level, constituencies are engaged on priority issues. My goal is that as more become aware of these opportunities that more will become engaged in leading and contributing. This is how we will ensure that we are making the most informed decisions for the future of Vanderbilt. To facilitate involvement, the new site includes best practices for forming committees and conducting committee work, as well as an overview of how initiatives are managed through the Provost’s office.
Speaking of initiatives and spreading the word, below is a summary of a number of recently launched projects or announcements. Please send me your thoughts if you have ideas on how we can take these or other initiatives to the next level! More information can be also be found on the Provost website.
- In response to the 2017 International Strategy Working Group report, the Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grant program was announced. This new initiative will help faculty pursue strategic, time-sensitive opportunities for global research and engagement. Work is also continuing this academic year on additional follow-up actions to enhance VU’s global engagement.
- In July, Douglas C. Schmidt, research technology expert and computer scientist and Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, was appointed associate provost for research development and technologies. In this new role, Schmidt will work to enhance Vanderbilt’s efforts to support and advance research technologies.
- Schmidt and Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Andreas Berlind will co-direct the new Data Science Institute, which was launched based on recommendations from a faculty-driven strategic planning process on how to advance data science-based research and education across campus.
- Celebrations continue this fall with the opening of E. Bronson Ingram College, Vanderbilt’s newest residential college. The inaugural Faculty Director Sarah Igo, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Program in American Studies, welcomed 340 upperclass students to an expanding living-learning experience that will leverage E. Bronson Ingram College’s special spaces for learning, collaborating and dining.
- A national search to appoint the next executive director of the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group is ongoing. The university continues to expand its analytical capabilities and data-driven, strategic decision-making, and the next VIRG leader will play a direct role in advancing the university’s efforts.
- Following up on last year’s successful Library Collections Initiative, we are finalizing additional follow-up actions in response to the Humanities manifesto and recommendations and in support of the humanities at Vanderbilt.
- We are in the midst of two capital planning processes, including one evaluating the trans-institutional needs of the sciences and engineering and another assessing facilities that serve the humanities and social sciences in the Arts and Science historic core of campus.
- We also issued two reports this summer – the Academic Strategic Plan report recapping the significant progress that was made across a host of initiatives tied to, and inspired by the plan as well as the Provost’s Annual Report on Highlights of Efforts to Advance Inclusive Excellence detailing the strides made in Academic Affairs areas related to equity, diversity and inclusion.
- I recently launched a planning phase for initiatives aimed at addressing the status of women faculty, students and postdocs in the Provost’s areas. In parallel, I am also working with Vice Chancellors Page and Kopstain on efforts for our broad array of women staff and provide a cohesive framework of support for all university women. For the Provost’s areas, while we are continuing to collect input, I am also soliciting nominations for members to serve on a standing steering committee and on potential subcommittees focused on specific themes, action items, and/or study areas. More on these efforts can be found on this new landing page.
As I hope you know, I consider your input an essential part of the “feedback loop” to ensure continuous improvement. We are stronger by working together and I am grateful to all who have contributed to moving Vanderbilt forward – from our engaged staff, to our pioneering faculty, to our inspired students.
Susan R. Wente
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