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Senate Task Forces

Student Life Task Force on the Freshman Commons (2005-2007)

David Wasserstein, Student Life committee, chair
Monica Casper, A&S, 
external member  
Peter Cummings, Student Life committee
Jonathan Hiskey, A&S, external member 
John Lachs, Student Life committee
Melanie Lowe, Blair, external member

Task Force Charge

Introduction: Recently Chancellor Gee has announced the formation of several university-wide committees—under the direction of Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nick Zeppos and Vice Chancellor for Student Life and University Affairs David Williams—to explore ways to enhance an integrated and balanced approach to the total learning environment at Vanderbilt. Specifically, he states: “As we approach the opening of The Commons and College Halls in 2008, there needs to be a strong alignment of structure, resources, and philosophy so we can effectively continue to create the diverse and vibrant intellectual and social community essential for the success of future generations of Vanderbilt students.” His initiative is aimed at defining and articulating “the values by which this intellectual and social engagement will be guided.”

This laudable goal is achievable through partnership with faculty, administrators and students. The purpose of this special committee is to formalize a mechanism whereby the Faculty Senate has a voice in ongoing and future discussions about best strategies for organizing and promoting a new and broader intellectual landscape at Vanderbilt. The signs for achieving concrete results are propitious. Chancellor Gee and Provost Zeppos have strongly encouraged Senate to adopt a proactive stance.

Charge: The general charge to the Task Force during the 2006 spring term is first to consult with students and administrators on their thinking about best strategies for transforming the social, moral, and intellectual landscape in the coming years. Secondly, the Task Force on the Commons will seek to define the specific, practical roles that faculty can assume outside the classroom, library, and laboratory—yet in conjunction with them—to enhance the climate of inquisitiveness and thoughtfulness. Thirdly, the Task Force will identify a range of activities for the 2006 fall term to refine practical and productive strategies. This might take the form of a mini-seminar for select faculty, students, and administrators during the fall term to test ideas and produce a white paper for future use.