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From the Dean

Posted by on Monday, November 23, 2009 in Fall 2009, From the Dean.

DeanBenbowThe 2009-10 academic year is well under way and with it all the activity in teaching, research and service that characterize Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. Despite the economic uncertainty of the last year, Peabody continues to thrive.

This fall we added nine new members to our faculty in positions across all five departments. Two of these outstanding scholars, Laurie Cutting (special education) and William Turner (human and organizational development) hold named endowed chairs. Bruce McCandliss, another endowed chair holder who joined us in January, is profiled in this issue. Our ability to recruit faculty of national repute is just one of the outcomes of Vanderbilt’s Shape the Future campaign.

Another campaign result is support for student financial aid. Vanderbilt’s commitment to replace need-based loans with grants is one of the factors that led to a record number of applications for undergraduate admission last year. The result was the most selective class of entering students in the university’s history. Proactive recruitment strategies and Peabody’s high reputation as a graduate school have resulted in similar increases in the number and quality of students in our master’s and doctoral programs.

Our goal as a college is to ensure that Peabody students—from undergraduates to doctoral candidates—have the best possible learning experience while here. Our agenda for 2009-10 focuses on issues of quality, on the creation of rich learning environments for our students, on enhancing the characteristics that make Peabody distinctive, and on translating excellence into contributions to the world around us.

Evidence of those contributions can be seen in the work of Professors Dale Farran, David Dickinson, Ann Kaiser, Carin Neitzel, Debbie Rowe and Georgene Troseth, whose research on early language development is described here. All of them are having positive effects on the well-being and learning of children during early childhood, which has long been an area of emphasis at Peabody.

A strong sense of community is another defining characteristic of the college. Social media have certainly created many more spaces for Peabody students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends to communicate or simply to keep up with everything happening here on campus or around the world. Readers of the Reflector may wish to follow us on Facebook or Twitter. YouTube makes the intellectual life of Peabody and Vanderbilt available long after graduation, while LinkedIn is presenting new possibilities for career development.

As always, I am grateful for the interest and support for our work shown by all those who care deeply about Peabody College.

Camilla P. Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development


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