I was reflecting today on our February divisional newsletter, which was focused on the accomplishments of the staff within our division and the critically important role you all play in the Vanderbilt community. I recall mentioning all of the changes that had taken place – efforts related to FutureVU, leadership changes, etc. – without knowing all that was ahead of us. In a matter of a couple of weeks, we faced extraordinary challenges together and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. From the tornado that caused destruction to many neighborhoods in and around Nashville, to dealing with the global coronavirus outbreak, it is truly an unprecedented time.
University leadership has had to make complex and important decisions in the recent days, and more will come to ensure we are taking the preventive actions to protect one another during this time and to care for our people. Many of us have had to shift to remote work, which I admit isn’t always an easy shift – from my office in Kirkland Hall I have been learning the ways of Zoom and Skype and how best to conduct remote meetings as a result. I also acknowledge that there are many others within our division who have stayed on campus to keep vital areas functioning. Every time I’ve walked to and from my office these past few mornings and around campus, I am reminded of how important our team is to maintaining Vanderbilt, whether it be supporting our community, its safety or the campus itself. For those who have had to remain on campus, I am continually in awe of the special care and heroic efforts that have been taken by everyone to keep our campus running as the situation evolves.
I am truly grateful for each and every one of you and the foundational role you play here at Vanderbilt. In these unprecedented times, I’m sure we all find ourselves experiencing a range of emotions from one moment to the next, and that is to be expected. Please continue to take care of yourselves not just physically, but emotionally, too. As Interim Chancellor Wente so eloquently stated in her recent Open Mind column, “social distancing does not mean social isolation,” and we should continue to check on one another in the coming days and weeks. Please also continue to check your email and the Vanderbilt coronavirus response website for any future updates and additional guidance.
And in closing, I have one additional request. If you or members of your team have any stories, pictures or videos that you have gathered during this time (and it does not have to be on campus) that capture the undaunted spirit and work ethic of our team and the Vanderbilt community during this historic moment of perseverance amidst uncertainty, please send them to Leigh Shoup (firstname.lastname@example.org) in my office. We will be compiling all stories and other items we receive to share and utilize in the future.
Thank you again for all that you do, and know that I am eternally grateful for our entire divisional team.
Vice Chancellor for Administration