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Provost - Open Dore E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

October 2020

Restructure and Recharge to Ensure Success

Dear Colleagues –

At a time when changes to how we are working, discovering and learning seem to come along on a daily basis, we still need to find time to pause and consider how to best invest in supporting our mission and the future. Over the past months of working with Chancellor Diermeier, and hearing from staff, faculty, postdocs and students, several critical perspectives emerged on how we could reorganize responsibilities within the Provost’s Office to enhance our ability to serve and ensure academic success. We are continually striving to find ways to support our community. In this newsletter, I will focus on specific strategic moves we are making now.

This fall, Vanessa Beasley’s role as vice provost for academic affairs expanded to include oversight of four additional areas of responsibility: the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, the English Language Center, the Writing Studio and Tutoring Services. With residential colleges, the Office of Immersion Resources and the Campus Connectors program already under her responsibility, Vice Provost Beasley has a holistic view encompassing many of our essential campus programs, enabling connectivity, collaboration and enhancement of our research and scholarship across campus.

Last week, I announced a key strategic move regarding our approach to career service, advancement and engagement. I am elevating the Evans Family Executive Director of the Career Center to be a direct report to the provost, with the additional title of vice provost for career advancement and engagement. This leader will be tasked with leveraging Vanderbilt’s extensive networks to expand our career services and will be a strategic partner to all the deans and vice provosts and many others across campus. With the vice provost serving as a primary liaison both nationally and internationally, we will engage key employers and alumni partners and amplify and enhance outstanding career advancement and engagement efforts for all. These efforts will have long-term benefits for our students and alumni. Vice Provost Doug Christiansen is chairing the search with a diverse committee that includes Vanderbilt alumni, faculty, students and staff.

Another strategic move is underway with our search for the next dean of the Graduate School, who also will hold the new title of vice provost for graduate education. As a vice provost and dean, this leader will work to support resources that enable the success of our students in programs across multiple schools and colleges. Our unique Vanderbilt structure, wherein the programmatic graduate education operations and graduate lines are decentralized, creates opportunity for consultative and collaborative engagement across campus. This further ensures we will be able to address the challenges of developing focused areas of excellence and preparing graduates for a changing job market. I am committed, along with the chancellor and deans, to continuing to make investments in graduate education, relying on the vice provost and graduate school dean as a partner and facilitator. I look forward to welcoming a new member of the provost leadership team who will work to advance excellence in research and graduate education. Thanks to all the faculty and students who participated in the listening sessions and provided feedback. Your collaboration in this process is integral and much appreciated.

We also are making significant investments in our equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. After serving as Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, William Robinson was appointed vice provost for academic advancement and executive director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence in June. In his new role, Vice Provost Robinson continues leading our efforts in academic affairs to build and sustain a culture of inclusion, belonging and respect in our trans-institutional research and educational missions. He partners directly with Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer André Churchwell and is centering his approach around three guiding principles: academic advancement, belonging and inclusivity, and cultural awareness, demonstrated by education and practice. Furthering our commitment to cultivating an inclusive campus culture, this month Franklin Ellis Jr. was recruited and appointed director of the Office for Inclusive Excellence. His career spans 20 years in higher education, with diversity and inclusion work at the core of his endeavors.

Last month, we also began the process of transitioning foundation relations from Development and Alumni Relations to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, which is led by Padma Raghavan. This change will allow us to capitalize on the successful processes already in place within OVPR for federal funding proposals and Limited Submission Opportunities. Recognizing the importance of diverse funding sources and foundation support for our research and scholarship at Vanderbilt, we are excited about providing faculty with more opportunities to move funding proposals forward with the ultimate goal of supporting their innovative and acclaimed research.

When we are most challenged, we find new ways to collaborate and reach higher. These changes are evidence of building further strength, always in support of our academic mission. As we make these changes, your feedback is always welcome. I encourage you to write to me about meeting with me in one of my Open Dore on Location events. I look forward to hearing from you as we work together to stay strong.


Susan R. Wente

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs



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New provost team member set to lead career advancement and engagement

The university is elevating its career engagement resources for students, alumni and employers by making the leader of career advancement and engagement activities a direct report to the provost. The vice provost for career advancement and engagement also will serve as the Evans Family Executive Director of the Career Center. Read more here.

Franklin Ellis Jr. has been named director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence.

Read more about Ellis Jr. and his new appointment here.

Provost’s WAVE Council set to host listening sessions on COVID-19-related gender equity concerns

The council will hold two listening sessions the first week of November for faculty and postdocs to discuss concerns. More here.

New report highlights Vanderbilt’s recent actions

The university has released its 2019-20 Report for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion highlighting an array of goals and initiatives currently advancing these core university values and offering a roadmap for the future. Read the report here.

Student Factbook features new look, download options

Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (PIE) in the Office of the Provost has released an updated version of the Student Factbook, including enhanced visualizations. More here.


Keeping an Eye on our Strategic Priorities – September 2020

Leading Through Research – May 2020

Center for Teaching Supports Faculty – April 2020

Immersion Vanderbilt Reaches a New Milestone – February 2020

Using Data Effectively and Responsibly – January 2020 

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