Having trouble viewing this email?
View as a webpage.

Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In this month’s edition of the Open Dore newsletter, authored by Derek Bruff, Director of the Center for Teaching, we are reminded of the essential role this office plays in supporting our faculty year-round and in times such as now, with an unprecedented and historical shift in our methods and rapid, obligatory adoption of new technologies.

The Center for Teaching is a long-standing leader in the portfolio of faculty development opportunities supported by Vice Provost Tracey George. In concert with a network of partners across the campus, the Center for Teaching provides integral resources for faculty in their pursuit to provide Vanderbilt students an unparalleled learning experience, whether in online and alternative formats or the classroom. I am proud of the work Bruff and colleagues are doing to allow us to continue in our mission of educating the whole student and preparing each to be resilient, active citizens that engage, question and forge positive change in our world.

Susan R. Wente
Interim Chancellor and Provost

Center for Teaching Supports Faculty by Derek Bruff

Greetings from my home office, where I do most of my work these days. Sometimes I move to the back porch when the weather is nice, but the desk in my office sits next to a couple of windows that provide good light for the Zoom meetings I have every day. My work and that of the Center for Teaching has changed dramatically over last month, at least in some ways. In other ways, it hasn’t changed at all.

In a typical year, Center for Teaching consultants work with almost a third of Vanderbilt’s faculty, not to mention graduate students, postdocs and staff members. We help current and future instructors clarify their learning objectives, plan for active learning in the classroom and design assignments that lead to deep learning. Through our programs and services, we have a significant, although indirect impact on student learning across the university.

This year, as we all know, has not turned out to be typical. Our work has increased dramatically in recent weeks as we’ve helped faculty and other instructors move to online and other alternative modes of instruction as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still in the process of helping faculty think through course objectives, plan learning activities and design assessments, but we’re doing so in the context of remote teaching and learning.

Since March 1, we’ve created or enhanced around 70 on-demand resources that are available to the Vanderbilt teaching community through our Brightspace support site. During March, the site received 105,240 pageviews, almost twice as many compared to last August, which is typically our busiest month of the year. Last month, our Brightspace support team fielded 4.5 times the usual number of tickets for this time of year. Three key Brightspace tools also saw expanded use in March with 141,254 quizzes taken, 363,495 assignments submitted and 222,746 discussions hosted.

I don’t recall another time in my 15 years at the Center for Teaching that we’ve been this busy, nor do I recall a time when our work has been this important to the teaching mission of the university. For those of you teaching in these tumultuous times, we want to help you navigate the challenges and opportunities you face.

  • For questions about Brightspace and related technologies, please reach out to our Brightspace support team either by email (brightspace@vanderbilt.edu) or phone (615-322-0200).
  • For other questions about teaching, either now or as you prepare for summer courses, you can schedule a consultation via Zoom with members of our senior staff or graduate fellows. Just email cft@vanderbilt.edu to get started.
  • For teaching ideas and resources you can use right now, see our “Resources for Just-in-Time Online Teaching” page for links to CFT blog posts, teaching guides, podcast episodes and more.

I’m proud of my colleagues at the Center for Teaching and the amazing work they’ve done this spring, and I’m proud of the ways the Vanderbilt teaching community has creatively, intentionally and compassionately supported student learning during this unprecedented shift to online instruction.


Derek Bruff
Director of the Center for Teaching



‘U.S. News’ ranks Vanderbilt graduate schools among nation’s best

Women’s Center announces 2020 award recipients

New grant helps minority STEM scholars advance as postdocs

Commons Reading announced for 2020-21 academic year

Resources for students planning to attend graduate, professional school in the near future

Deadline for Immersion plan proposals extended to Sept. 7; online resources available

Message from the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence

Open Mind: Innovative solutions for uncommon times

University Arts Council announces four areas of focus

Celebration honors nine new endowed chair holders

Faculty named to Global Voices Fellowship for fall 2020

Wente, Kopstain launch new Sustainability Advisory Council

Vanderbilt, American Talent Initiative mark progress in expanding higher-education access

Bolton, Rice offer expert view of U.S. foreign policy process at Chancellor’s Lecture

New website to engage VU community in electronic research administration system implementation

Stay in the Loop!

Follow the Office of the Provost on Twitter

2020 virtual Spring Faculty Assembly website launched

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente reflects on the university’s continued momentum, highlights faculty achievements and thanks the Vanderbilt community for its resilience during a turbulent semester—on the virtual Spring Faculty Assembly websiteRead more.

Full support provided for successful transition to online and alternative education

The university has put a priority on providing faculty with the tools and resources they need to successfully implement their courses online. Read more here.

University names new dean of Blair School of Music following international search

Lorenzo Candelaria, dean and professor of music at Purchase College, State University of New York, has been tapped as the next dean of Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. More here.

New residential faculty announced for Zeppos College, The Ingram Commons

Three new residential faculty will help enrich the Vanderbilt educational experience beyond the classroom and build supportive and diverse communities on campus. More here.

Commencement 2020 Graduating Student Committee announced

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente has appointed a new advisory group composed of students from the Class of 2020 to provide feedback and engage in planning their postponed Commencement ceremony and related events that will now take place in May 2021. More here.

Vanderbilt University prepares hundreds of rooms for VUMC medical workers fighting global pandemic

A number of campus residence halls are being made available to serve as essential close-proximity housing for medical staff as they work around the clock to fight the global novel coronavirus disease. More here.


In case you missed it…

Immersion Vanderbilt Reaches a New Milestone – February 2020

Using Data Effectively and Responsibly – January 2020

Advancing Research, Scholarship and Innovation at Vanderbilt – December 2019

Supporting the Faculty – November 2019

Recruiting an Intellectually Curious Group of Students – October 2019



Office of the Provost  |  vanderbilt.edu/provost

Helpful Links

Provost Website
Advisory Committees
Search Committees
Strategic Plan Committees

Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Vanderbilt®, Vanderbilt University®, V Oak Leaf Design®, Star V Design® and Anchor Down® are trademarks of The Vanderbilt University. ©2020 Vanderbilt University. All rights reserved.