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Posted by on Monday, February 11, 2019 in Uncategorized.

Mission and Background

Vanderbilt is committed to inclusive excellence and aspires to be a community that recognizes the contributions made by the diverse array of staff, students and faculty, past and present, who have positively impacted the university.

The Vanderbilt Trailblazers initiative, established in fall of 2018 by then-Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, began with the dedication of four portraits by world-renowned artist Simmie Knox in honor of Vanderbilt Trailblazers. The first Trailblazer portraits depicted alumni Perry Wallace, the Rev. James Lawson, the Rev. Walter R. Murray and Bishop Joseph Johnson. On April 26, 2019, the second round of Vanderbilt Trailblazers were announced. Zeppos has commissioned paintings of Dorothy Wingfield Phillips, K.C. Potter, David Williams II, Kate Lupton and Muhammad Yunus.

As the Trailblazers initiative progresses, additional figures in Vanderbilt’s history will be celebrated and recognized through powerful displays of art that symbolically gives voice to their narrative, their legacy and Vanderbilt’s collective vision of fostering a community built upon the values of equity, diversity and inclusion.


Vanderbilt Trailblazers Committee

The newly established Vanderbilt Trailblazers Committee appointed by Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos will determine future honorees and where depictions of them will be permanently housed. The Vanderbilt Trailblazers Committee includes:

  • Holly Algood, associate professor of medicine; vice chair-elect, Faculty Senate
  • Frances Burton, president-elect, Vanderbilt Student Government
  • Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Fine Arts
  • Xiu Cravens, associate dean for international affairs, Peabody College
  • Rory Dicker, director, Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center
  • Dennis Dickerson, James M. Lawson Jr. Professor of History
  • Frank Dobson, associate dean of students
  • Scott Glasgow, senior special events coordinator, Human Resources; chair, Human Resources Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • Candice Lee, associate vice chancellor for athletics
  • Jeff Loudon, senior relationship manager, Vanderbilt University Information Technology; vice president/president-elect, University Staff Advisory Council
  • Melanie Moran, associate vice chancellor for university relations, Communications
  • Rosevelt Noble, assistant dean of students; director, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
  • JaNiene Peoples, student well-being coordinator, Center for Student Wellbeing
  • Chris Purcell, director, LGBTQI Life
  • Tina Smith, associate vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, Development and Alumni Relations
  • Moses Taylor Jr., Vanderbilt alumnus; member, Chancellor’s ’Dores of Distinction Alumni Advisory Board

*The 2019-20 president of the Graduate Student Council also will be appointed to the committee once that person is announced.


Coverage on the Vanderbilt Trailblazers initiative

Vanderbilt Trailblazer Portraits Unveiled During Reunion Weekend | The Tennessee Tribune, Oct. 14, 2019

Five Vanderbilt Trailblazer portraits unveiled during Reunion Weekend | myVU, Oct. 19, 2019

Chancellor announces next round of Vanderbilt trailblazers to be honored with portraits | myVU, April 26, 2019

Vanderbilt Examines its Past with Honors for Black Alumni/Faculty | The Tennessee Tribune, November 15, 2018

New portraits honor Vanderbilt Trailblazers | myVU, October 15, 2018

What’s On My Mind: Elevating Trailblazers and reflecting our community through art | myVU, October 15, 2018