Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Susan R. Wente is provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Vanderbilt University, where she oversees all academic programs and leads initiatives to advance the university’s mission. Following Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos’ decision to step down as chancellor August 15, 2019, the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust voted to appoint Wente as the university’s interim chancellor beginning August 15 while a national search is conducted for the university’s next chancellor. Wente will continue to serve as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs while serving as interim chancellor.
Since she became provost in 2014, Vanderbilt has ascended in the U.S. News & World Report rankings from #16 to #14 and has jumped from #20 to #10 within Reuter’s assessment of the World’s Most Innovative Universities. Drawing on her distinguished background in biomedical science, Wente combines her expertise in scholarship and research with an overarching vision that spotlights innovation, collaboration and discovery. As Vanderbilt’s first female provost, she is an advocate for women in science and the importance of equity and inclusive excellence across campus.
Wente oversees faculty, staff, programming and initiatives for all 10 of Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges: the Blair School of Music, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Divinity School, the School of Engineering, the Graduate School, the Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management, Peabody College of education and human development, the School of Medicine – Basic Sciences, and the School of Nursing. In addition, she leads the areas of student affairs, housing, admissions and financial aid, fostering a dynamic student experience. Under Wente’s leadership, Vanderbilt was ranked No. 1 for financial aid and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review in 2018.
Wente is also credited with co-chairing the development and now leading the implementation of Vanderbilt’s Academic Strategic Plan, which emphasizes how the university’s key pillars of cross-disciplinary research, an immersive undergraduate residential experience, innovative educational technology and healthcare solutions can benefit Vanderbilt and all of society. Towards this end, for example, Wente has championed the development of the university’s residential college program and the first graduate student village, and launched the university’s first Office for Inclusive Excellence, the new Data Science Institute, the university’s first innovation center (the Wond’ry) and the Russell G. Hamilton scholarships for graduate education. She also implemented Immersion Vanderbilt, an innovative long-term experiential learning program that is a cornerstone of the university’s undergraduate curriculum.
Wente has embraced open, transparent communication forums for community input, including the COACHE faculty satisfaction and student campus climate surveys, and fostered shared governance initiatives. She also serves as the university’s Faculty Athletic Representative to the SEC conference and NCAA.
Recruited to Vanderbilt in 2002 as professor and chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Medicine, Wente has served in multiple key roles in research, education and leadership. In 2009, she was named associate vice chancellor for research in the medical center and concurrently the senior associate dean for biomedical sciences, where she was involved in directing and planning for the basic science research mission and research core facilities across the medical center and for trans-institutional biomedical research centers and institutes and graduate and postdoctoral fellow programs.
Wente runs an internationally respected research program that has made groundbreaking discoveries regarding the exchange of proteins and RNA between the nucleus and cytoplasm, which have enabled opportunities for further analysis of the biological mechanics behind cellular transport and insights into dysfunctions underlying human disease pathologies. She has personally mentored 36 predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.
Throughout her career, she has received many honors and awards, including the coveted MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health (2010 – 2020), the Women in Cell Biology Senior Career Award from the ASCB (2011), the John H. Exton Award for Research Leading to Innovative Biological Concepts (2008), the Kirsch Foundation Investigator Award (2001 – 2003), and the Beckman Young Investigator Award (1996). Additionally, she is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been featured in Nashville Medical News’ “Women to Watch” and in the Nashville Post’s 2019 “In Charge – Education” compendium of Nashville’s top education leaders.
Wente earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. She was a post-doctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University and prior to joining Vanderbilt served on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis from 1993 to 2002.
205 Kirkland Hall