Having trouble viewing this email? View as a webpage.

Division of Administration Newsletter E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

December 2019

Eric Kopstain

Earlier this year, Vanderbilt announced a long-term strategy that not only will transform our campus, but also takes a holistic approach to sustainability that impacts each and every one of us. By pledging to power our campus entirely through renewable energy, to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to generate more renewable energy than we consume, we have committed to tackling issues that I personally believe cannot be ignored.

Taking on such an endeavor requires true collaboration, something I feel our divisional work and values are founded upon. Our divisional team has led efforts, with faculty, staff and students, to explore large-scale renewable energy options, the BlueSky Energy Vision Study, issues of transportation and mobility, a zero waste study and the removal of single-use plastics on campus, all of which are elements that impact our emissions as a university. How we think about our natural resources—land, water, air—and the changes we make on our campus to improve green spaces, enhance storm water elements and embrace the park-like setting we love and enjoy are important not only to the FutureVU framework, but also signal that we believe sustainability is important.

As one of the largest employers in the region, we have a responsibility to address issues of sustainability. We can set an example for others in our region—and beyond—by utilizing our expertise, innovation, research and the holistic approach that permeates how we work at Vanderbilt.

While I have enjoyed seeing the work to date involving our expert faculty and engaged students on these matters, I want to emphasize that I am struck by the efforts many in our division have made on this front. Our staff are integral to making the campus more sustainable. By engaging in these dialogues, we are reflecting the values not only of our division, but of our institution, as well as our commitment to innovation and the human experience. Your contributions have not gone unnoticed, and I want to commend those who have worked tirelessly. I also want to emphasize that our work is not done, and it will take each and every one of us—committing to making a difference, no matter how big or small—to reach our goals collectively.

I have chosen sustainability, broadly, as a topic for this month’s newsletter, as it is a topic that I feel is important for us to continue to discuss and improve upon. I hope you will enjoy reading about our efforts to date and consider ways in which you, and your teams, can get involved to improve the campus environment.

Eric Kopstain
Vice Chancellor for Administration


The Princeton Review announced its list of the top 50 green colleges in October, and once again, Vanderbilt was on it. This continued recognition for our efforts showcases the importance we put on making sustainability a top priority.

Earlier this year, we announced our goal to power campus entirely through renewable energy and committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. The way we will reach this ambitious yet achievable goal is investing in on-site clean energy and off-site large-scale renewable energy, decreasing our carbon footprint from vehicles, increasing green spaces across campus, reducing consumption and waste, and investing in sustainable infrastructure.

Just a few weeks ago we released a FutureVU progress report that offers a glimpse of achievements we made last fiscal year. Many elements of this progress report touch on aspects of sustainability, whether that be site and landscape improvements, stormwater management, emissions, waste and recycling and more.

Below you will find highlights of our efforts so far to become a more sustainable campus. While we have hit many impressive milestones, there is still much work to be done. It will take all of us actively participating to make a difference. Let’s all think about ways we can incorporate sustainable practices into our work each day.

On-site clean energy

Vanderbilt produces a portion of electricity, all of the steam, and a portion of the chilled water consumed on campus at the combined Heat and Power Plant. Infrastructure in the West End and Peabody neighborhoods are being upgraded with more sustainable hot and chilled water lines. We also have invested in solar-powered electronic charging stations and picnic tables. A solar-powered hot water system and a 20kW solar photovoltaic electric system have been installed at the Currey Tennis Center. Electricity from those solar panels are fed into the electricity grid. Further energy conservation and efficiency measures are being evaluated for use in the near and long-term future as discussed in the BlueSky Energy Vision Study.

Off-site large-scale renewable energy

The future of large-scale renewable energy at Vanderbilt is also outlined in the BlueSky Energy Vision Study. Based on the study’s recommendations, we are in the process of exploring solar or wind project options to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions.

Decrease carbon footprint by vehicles

As we work to reach our sustainability goals, we must also make an impact on our commuting behaviors. During the 2017-18 fiscal year, 23 percent of Vanderbilt’s greenhouse gas emissions came from commuting. Efforts are underway to address this, and more initiatives will launch to support our goals. Some transportation and mobility efforts that have occurred on campus so far this year include streamlined VandyRide nighttime student shuttle service, pilot ridehail pick-up and drop-off areas, the first installment of a multimodal Walk and Roll Loop pathway, a new electronic golf cart service for campus community members with accessibility or mobility needs and studies about campus air quality and mobility data.

Increase green spaces across campus

Vanderbilt neighborhoods are already transforming from concrete and paved areas to more park-like settings. The most noticeable example of this is the West End Neighborhood, where the former Kensington Avenue area has been transformed into pedestrian pathways and green spaces. The FutureVU Land Use Plan includes long-term transformative projects that will establish connections not only within campus, but also to the broader Nashville community. Other ways we are increasing our green spaces are with storm water management practices, smart irrigation systems and green vegetated roofs. Community outreach and education are vitally important to these efforts. Our staff have overseen Vanderbilt’s involvement in the annual Park(ing) Day events for the last three years. The events feature parking spaces and concrete or paved areas being transformed into pocket parks to demonstrate how these spaces can be used in different ways.

Reduce consumption and waste

The reduction of consumption and waste is the most visible way we are achieving our goals outlined in the Zero Waste Study. Campus Dining is making an impact with food waste collection for composting at all major dining facilities. They also have eliminated single-use plastic water and soda bottles from all markets and dining facilities. While new recommendations will be implemented in the coming years, we continue to utilize existing approaches to waste, diversion, recycling, food waste collection and reuse. We are doing this by eliminating plastic straws, lids and bags on campus; transitioning to compostable to-go cups, plates and cutlery in dining facilities; increasing hydration stations around dining centers; providing free reusable water bottles to all undergraduate students; enacting new dining processes to lessen food waste; and offering more sustainable printing and procurement options.

Invest in sustainable infrastructure

We are committed to building facilities with sustainable and green features to ensure they are environmentally responsible and efficient buildings that will last. The campus is home to 21 LEED-certified buildings, and The Commons Center, Warren and Moore Colleges, the Engineering and Science Building and E. Bronson Ingram College all have achieved LEED Gold status. The Vanderbilt School of Nursing is Nashville’s first complete, ground-up structure designed to achieve WELL designation. There are six green roofs on campus, which reduce energy use in buildings, reduce the urban heat island effect, improve storm water management and increase roof longevity. We are also saving approximately 50 million gallons of water annually from bathroom retrofits and groundwater reuse projects.

Get involved

Every member of the Vanderbilt community contributes to the overall success of the university’s research and education mission. Reaching our sustainability goals is only possible if there is a concerted effort among us. The Sustainability and Environmental Management Office staff have shared some ways for you and your team to actively participate in sustainability efforts:

  • Turn off (office) lights when not in use
  • Turn down thermostats in the winter during weekends and holidays
  • Replace bottled water with reusable bottles
  • Use compostable dishes and utensils for events, and think about ways to reduce waste from food and packaging
  • Reduce waste from meetings by distributing information digitally instead of printing on paper
  • Reduce printing waste by using double-sided printing
  • Choose more sustainable products when purchasing for offices
  • Recycle


Follow FutureVU Sustainability on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to get the latest updates on Vanderbilt’s sustainability initiatives.



Peabody Neighborhood Project celebrates major milestone with ‘topping out’ ceremony

Athletics and Campus Dining employees receive Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Awards

Vanderbilt renames early childhood care and education center The Acorn School

Smetana named to executive governing board of Higher Education Recruitment Consortium

New residential college named for Chancellor Emeritus Nicholas S. Zeppos

Campus Dining announces meal swipe partnership with Athletics

Division of Administration issues FutureVU progress report

University launches new series of unconscious bias workshops

Employee Engagement: Baker Building’s Movable Feast

FutureVU advisory committee announced

Campus Dining offers discount on meal plans for faculty and staff Dec. 9-13

Commodore Award nominees announced

Internationally renowned scholar Daniel Diermeier named Vanderbilt University chancellor


Division of Administration website

Division of Administration employee recognition



Charles DeFrance: VUPS precinct director still holds VU career stolen bases record

Charles DeFrance’s commitment to Vanderbilt spans more than 40 years. DeFrance not only was a standout on the baseball field as a Commodore student-athlete, but he also has been a standout among his colleagues in Vanderbilt University Public Safety, where he currently serves as director of the Medical Center precinct.

DeFrance was a member of Vanderbilt baseball’s 1980 SEC championship team. In 1982, he became the SEC and Vanderbilt single-season and career stolen bases record holder. While the SEC record has since been broken, his Vanderbilt record for career stolen bases remains intact.

DeFrance recalls an experience during his time on the baseball team that continues to guide him today. Fans from a peer university were known for creatively heckling the opposing team. After DeFrance reached first base, one of those fans heckled him.

“Being the only African American baseball player in the SEC Eastern Division at the time, I could have been offended. Instead, I proceeded to steal second base and third base on consecutive pitches. When I arrived at third base, I bowed to the crowd,” he said. “After the game, the opposing team presented me with a baseball cap and shirt from their school that I still have to this day. I learned a valuable lesson: When in a challenging environment, believe in yourself and perform to the best of your ability. In the end, those who are good people at heart will appreciate you.”

DeFrance attributes much of his success within VUPS to his “fantastic” leadership team and the 150 police officers and community service officers who work hard to create and maintain a safe and secure environment for VUMC’s health care professionals.

“Director DeFrance exemplifies the VUPS commitment to service,” according to a colleague. “His expertise in safety and security operations within a medical center setting is truly world-class. Each and every day he addresses his responsibility as a leader with the same attitude and team spirit that he displayed as a student-athlete. He is an exemplary leader and mentor.”

Yasmine Mukahal: Diversity recruitment manager shares passion for helping others through community involvement

Yasmine Mukahal, diversity recruitment manager in Human Capital and Business Services, describes her passion as helping people, whether by connecting talent with the right job opportunities or serving in the local community.

Mukahal’s commitment to service began when she joined the YWCA Junior Board Committee. The experience gave her an appreciation for how local nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for community members. Currently, Mukahal serves on the boards of the Faith and Culture Center, the YWCA, Friends of the Children’s Hospital, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the Islamic Center of Nashville, the Millions of Conversations campaign and tnAchieves.

Mukahal’s involvement in many diversity and women-focused organizations outside of work has helped expand Vanderbilt Human Capital’s reach into the community, a colleague noted. Her commitment has earned her nominations for the Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence and 40 under 40 awards.

“Yasmine’s impact goes beyond her day-to-day work in so many exciting ways as she represents the talent team, People & Business Services, the division, and the university with community organizations, prospective employees, and others,” a colleague stated. “Her efforts contribute in supporting the university as it works hard to not only be an employer of choice, but to also, focus on recruiting and retaining the best talent. She is a consummate team player and always ready to step up, learn, and help her colleagues inside our team and across campus.”

Mukahal exemplifies the university’s divisional and institutional values through her service to others, both at Vanderbilt and beyond.

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration

Vanderbilt University, 421 Kirkland Hall , Nashville, TN 37240

Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Vanderbilt®, Vanderbilt University®, V Oak Leaf Design®, Star V Design® and Anchor Down® are trademarks of The Vanderbilt University. ©2022 Vanderbilt University. All rights reserved.