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Major Programs and Events for First-Year Students

First-Year Programming

Residential Colleges provides a wide array of programming options for first-year students as soon as they step on campus. The following selections are representative of a few of the incredible events students can expect to see. For a full list of programs, check out The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons Anchor Link page.

Commons Mix-Ups & The Commons Cup

Residents of The Ingram Commons can participate in two year-long initiatives: Commons Mix-Ups and The Commons Cup. Occurring either on Friday or Saturday evening, Commons Mix-Ups provide an opportunity to hang out with your classmates and get to know faculty heads outside of your house. The Commons Cup is a competition among the houses that promotes community, unity, and partnership. The competition consists of five categories: Academics, Athletics, Community Involvement, Service, and Sustainability. Students participate throughout the academic year to earn points within each category for their respective houses while utilizing these opportunities to build relationships and forge lasting memories within each class of undergraduates.

Commons Seminars

Commons Seminars are intended to prepare first-year students to pursue their passions by modeling rigorous, compelling, and unique projects in addition to exposing students to a particular seminar theme. Commons Seminar topics help students imagine ways to make a difference in the world by introducing them early on to the questions of why, how, and where having an immersive experience might make a difference in their undergraduate careers.

Students can view the full list of Commons Seminars by clicking the link below.

Commons Seminars Webpage

Food for Thought Series

Regularly throughout the school year students are invited to join Dean Gresalfi and a special guest for a meal and conversation. These events take place both at her residence on The Ingram Commons and at various locations around campus. Each meal will have a limited number for RSVPs and will focus on a topic or area of interest depending on the guest. Students are encouraged to check their emails to see the upcoming dinners and RSVP on Anchor Link.

Residential Colleges Lectures

Throughout the school year Residential Colleges hosts two annual lectures, the Murray Lecture, in honor of Walter Murray, Jr.; and the Lawson Lecture, in honor of Rev. James Lawson. The Murray Lecture is held in tribute to African American trailblazers and the Lawson Lecture is held in conjunction with The Campus Reading, and the speaker addresses the new class in the fall on various themes or ideas associated with the reading.

Signature Events

Residential Colleges hosts three major events each year on The Ingram Commons: Fall for the Arts, the Commons Ball, and the End of Year Block Party. Fall for the Arts takes place on the Friday evening of Family Weekend. This outdoor festival brings the “creative campus” to life with a special program, including musical and dance performances from the main stage, several craft stations, a caricature artist, free t-shirt screen-printing with Hip Hues, and a festive fall-themed menu!

The Commons Ball takes place on the first Friday in February and is planned in conjunction with the 10 house presidents. Each year the Commons Ball’s theme changes and The Commons Center is transformed into a magical landscape with dancing, activities, photos, and decadent food.

The End of Year Block Party celebrates the end of a successful first year and recognizes the accomplishments of the class. The End of Year Block Party features delicious food, fun, and the announcement of the outcome of The Commons Cup competition.

All signature events are open to all Vanderbilt students.

STEM-C at Vanderbilt University

Students Transforming Experiences through Meaningful Communities (STEM-C) was created for first-year students who are pursuing STEM-related degrees and self-identify as Black and/or Latinx. Through STEM-C these students are invited to join a STEM-C community. We believe that the best academic experience is one that allows students to bring their full selves—their intersectional identities, their interests, and their passions. This is why we have created groups for first-year students to engage with mentors as they work through academically rigorous courses in STEM-related fields. Each group has mentors that are post-doctoral or doctoral students in STEM-related fields at Vanderbilt University, and who think critically about identity and learning.