From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|Endowment||$3.673 billion (2013) |
|Chancellor||Nicholas S. Zeppos|
|Provost||Richard C. McCarty|
|Campus||Urban, 330 acres (1.3 km2)|
|Colors||Black and gold |
|Athletics||NCAA Division I|
14 varsity teams
American Lacrosse Conference
1 varsity team
|Affiliations||Association of American Universities|
|Endowment||$3.673 billion (2013) |
|Chancellor||Nicholas S. Zeppos|
|Provost||Richard C. McCarty|
|Campus||Urban, 330 acres (1.3 km2)|
|Colors||Black and gold |
|Athletics||NCAA Division I|
14 varsity teams
American Lacrosse Conference
1 varsity team
|Affiliations||Association of American Universities|
Vanderbilt University, colloquially known as Vandy, is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named in honor of shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the South. The Commodore hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.
Today Vanderbilt enrolls approximately 12,000 students from all 50 U.S. states and over 90 foreign countries in four undergraduate and six graduate and professional schools. Several research centers and institutes are affiliated with the university, including the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, Dyer Observatory, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the only Level I trauma center in Middle Tennessee. With the exception of the off-campus observatory and satellite medical clinics, all of university's facilities are situated on its 330-acre (1.3 km2) campus in the heart of Nashville, only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from downtown. Despite its urban surroundings, the campus itself is a national arboretum and features over 300 different species of trees and shrubs.
Notable alumni and affiliates include two Vice Presidents of the United States, 25 Rhodes Scholars, seven Nobel Prize laureates, Fields Medal winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Academy Award winners.
In the years prior to the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church South had been considering the creation of a regional university for the training of ministers in a location central to its congregations. Following lobbying by Nashville bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire (1824–1889), church leaders voted to found "Central University" in Nashville in 1872. However, lack of funds and the ravaged state of the Reconstruction Era South delayed the opening of the college.
The following year, McTyeire stayed at the New York City residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose second wife was Frank Armstrong Crawford Vanderbilt (1839–1885), a cousin of McTyeire's wife, Amelia Townsend McTyeire (1827–1891); both women were from Mobile, Alabama. Indeed, the McTyeires had met at St. Francis Street Methodist Church in Mobile. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was the wealthiest man in the United States at the time, was considering philanthropy as he was at an advanced age. He had been planning to establish a university on Staten Island, New York, in honor of his mother. However, McTyeire convinced him to donate $500,000 to endow Central University in order to "contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country."
The endowment was eventually increased to $1 million (equal to $17,697,692 in 2009) and would be only one of two philanthropic causes financially supported by Vanderbilt. Though he never expressed any desire that the university be named after himself, McTyeire and his fellow trustees rechristened the school in his honor. Vanderbilt died in 1877 without seeing the school named after him.
In the fall of 1875, about 200 students enrolled at Vanderbilt, and in October the university was dedicated. Bishop McTyeire was named chairman of the Board of Trust for life by Vanderbilt as a stipulation of his endowment. McTyeire named Landon Garland (1810–1895), his mentor from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and then-Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, as chancellor. Garland shaped the school's structure and hired the school's faculty, many of whom were renowned scholars in their respective fields. However, most of this crop of star faculty left after disputes with Bishop McTyeire.
During the first 40 years, the Board of Trust, and therefore the university, was under the control of the General Conference (the governing body) of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Tension grew between the university administration and the Conference over the future of the school, particularly over the methods by which members of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust would be chosen, and the extent that non-Methodists could teach at the school.
In 1905, the Board of Trust voted to limit Methodist representation on the board to just five bishops. Former faculty member and bishop Elijah Hoss led a group attempting to assert Methodist control. In 1910, the board refused to seat three Methodist bishops. The Methodist Church took the issue to court and won at the local level. On March 21, 1914, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the Commodore, and not the Methodist Church, was the university's founder and that the board could therefore seat whomever it wished. The General Conference in 1914 voted 151 to 140 to sever its ties with Vanderbilt; it also voted to establish a new university, Southern Methodist University, and to greatly expand Emory University.
Vanderbilt enjoyed early intellectual influence during the 1920s and 1930s when it hosted two partly overlapping groups of scholars who had a large impact on American thought and letters: the Fugitives and the Agrarians. During the same period, Ernest William Goodpasture and his colleagues in the School of Medicine invented methods for cultivating viruses and rickettsiae in fertilized chicken eggs. This work made possible the production of vaccines against chicken pox, smallpox, yellow fever, typhus, Rocky mountain spotted fever and other diseases caused by agents that only propagate in living cells. Alfred Blalock, Professor of Surgery, and his assistant Vivian Thomas identified a decrease in blood volume and fluid loss outside the vascular bed as a key factor in traumatic shock and pioneered the use of replacement fluids for its treatment. This treatment saved countless lives during World War II.
In the late 1950s, the Vanderbilt Divinity School became a hotbed of the emerging civil rights movement, and the university expelled one of the movement's leaders, James Lawson. In 2005, Lawson was re-hired as a Distinguished University Professor for the 2006–2007 academic year, and named a Distinguished Alumnus for his achievements.
The university drew national attention in 1966 when it recruited Perry Wallace, the first African-American athlete in the Southeastern Conference. Wallace, from Nashville, played varsity basketball for Vanderbilt from 1967 to 1970, and faced considerable opposition from segregationists when playing at other SEC venues. In 2004, a student-led drive to retire Wallace's jersey finally succeeded. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt was chairman of the Board of Trust between 1955 and 1968 when racial integration was a prominent topic at the school. Today, a statue of him in front of Buttrick Hall memorializes his efforts.
History, race, and civil rights issues came to the forefront on the campus in 2002, when the university decided to rename Confederate Memorial Hall, a residence hall on the Peabody campus as Memorial Hall. Nationwide attention resulted, in part due to a lawsuit by the Tennessee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who had helped pay for the building's construction in 1933 with a $50,000 contribution.
The Davidson County Chancery Court dismissed the lawsuit in 2003, but the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in May 2005 that the university must pay damages based on the present value of the United Daughters of the Confederacy's contribution if the inscription bearing the name "Confederate Memorial Hall" was removed from the building or altered. The Court of Appeals' decision has been criticized by legal scholars.
In late July 2005, the university announced that although it had officially renamed the building and all university publications and offices will refer to it solely as Memorial Hall, the university would neither appeal the matter further, nor remove the inscription and pay damages.
Vanderbilt University, as a private corporation, is wholly governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trust. The board comprises 45 regular members (plus any number of trustees emeriti) and the chancellor, the university's chief executive officer. Each trustee serves a five-year term (except for four recently graduated alumni, who serve two two-year terms). Mark Dalton is the board's chairman.
Nicholas S. Zeppos currently serves as chancellor of Vanderbilt University. He was appointed interim chancellor after the departure of Gordon Gee, who left to reassume the presidency of Ohio State University on August 1, 2007, and was named chancellor in his own right on March 1, 2008.
Since the opening of the university in 1875, only eight individuals have served as chancellors. Landon Garland was the university's first chancellor, serving from 1875 to 1893. Garland organized the university and hired its first faculty. Garland Hall, an academic building on campus, is named in his honor.
The next chancellor was James Kirkland—serving from 1893 to 1937, he had the longest tenure of any Vanderbilt chancellor. He was responsible for severing the university's ties with the Methodist Church and relocating the medical school to the main campus. Vanderbilt's Main Building was renamed Kirkland Hall after Kirkland left in 1937.
The longest-tenured chancellor was followed by one of the shortest-tenured. Oliver Carmichael served Vanderbilt for just nine years, 1937 to 1946. Carmichael developed the graduate school, and established the Joint University Libraries for Vanderbilt, Peabody, and Scarritt College. Carmichael Towers, a set of high-rise dormitories on the northern edge of campus, were named for Chancellor Carmichael.
Carmichael's successor was Harvie Branscomb. Branscomb presided over a period of major growth and improvement at the university that lasted from 1946 until 1963. He was responsible for opening the admissions policy to all races. Branscomb Quadrangle is a residence hall complex named for the chancellor.
Alexander Heard, for whom the campus's 10-library system (with 3.3 million total volumes) is named, served as chancellor from 1963 to 1982. During his 20-year tenure, the Owen Graduate School of Management was founded, and Vanderbilt's merger with Peabody College was negotiated. He also survived calls for his ouster because of his accommodating stance on desegregation.
Joe B. Wyatt was the chancellor who served immediately after Heard, from 1982 until 2000. Wyatt oversaw a great increase in the university's endowment, an increase in student diversity, and the renovation of many campus buildings. Wyatt placed great emphasis on improving the quality of faculty and instruction, and during his tenure Vanderbilt rose to the top 25 in the U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings for the first time. The Wyatt Center on Peabody's campus is named for Wyatt and his wife.
Gee was appointed chancellor by the Board of Trust in February 2000. Controversy arose in 2006 over Gee's spending during his tenure at Vanderbilt, including the over $6 million spent on remodeling his university-owned house. An article in The Wall Street Journal in September of that year examining the spending of college and university executives used Gee and Vanderbilt as an example of the lax oversight common to higher education. The Board of Trust has since established a committee to monitor more closely the spending by the chancellor's office.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a vital component of the university and is the only Level I Trauma Center in Middle Tennessee. VUMC comprises the following units: Vanderbilt University Hospital, Monroe Carell, Jr., Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, Vanderbilt Clinic, Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital, Eskind Biomedical Library, Vanderbilt Sports Medicine, Dayani Human Performance Center, Vanderbilt Page Campbell Heart Institute, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.
With over 21,500 employees (including 2,876 full-time faculty), Vanderbilt is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee and the second largest in the state (after FedEx, headquartered in Memphis). Approximately 74% of the university's faculty and staff are employed by the Medical Center. In 2008, the medical center was placed on the Honor Roll of U.S. News & World Report's annual rating of the nation's best hospitals for the third time, ranking 15th overall in the country, and 17 of the faculty were members of one of the National Academies. In 2004, the university reported that 24.1% of non-Medical Center faculty were women, while 14.4% were of a racial or ethnic minority.
As of 2013, Vanderbilt had an enrollment of 6,835 undergraduate and 5,960 graduate and professional students, for a total of 12,795 students. Students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries attend Vanderbilt, with 65% of the total student body coming from outside the Southeast; 6% of students are from outside the United States. Moreover, 24% of the undergraduate class of 2010 was non-Caucasian, while roughly half were women.
Vanderbilt offers undergraduates the chance to pursue 70 majors, or the opportunity to create their own, in its four undergraduate schools and colleges: the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Blair School of Music. The university also has six graduate and professional schools, including the Divinity School, Graduate School, Law School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Owen Graduate School of Management.
The university's undergraduate programs are highly selective: in 2013, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions accepted 11.97% of applicants, thus making Vanderbilt one of the most selective universities in the United States and the most selective university in the state of Tennessee. In its most recent annual comparison of admissions selectivity, The Princeton Review gave Vanderbilt a rating of 99 out of 99. The admitted first-year class of 2017 had standardized test scores that were well above average: the interquartile range (25th percentile – 75th percentile) of SAT scores was 1410–1570 (Math plus Critical Reading subscores), while the interquartile range of ACT scores was 32–34. For students whose schools reported exact class rankings, 95.26% ranked in the 10% of their class, with an average rank of 3.39%.
As with any large research institution, Vanderbilt investigators work in a broad range of disciplines, and the university consistently ranks among the top 20 research institutions in the United States. In 2013, Vanderbilt University was ranked 9th in the country in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its Institute for Space and Defense Electronics, housed in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is the largest such academic facility in the world.
Among its more unusual activities, the university has institutes devoted to the study of coffee and of bridge. Indeed, the modern form of the latter was developed by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, a former president of the university's Board of Trust and a great-grandson of the Commodore. In addition, in mid-2004 it was announced that Vanderbilt's chemical biology research may have serendipitously opened the door to the breeding of a blue rose, something that has long been coveted by horticulturalists and rose lovers.
Vanderbilt's research record is blemished, however, by a study university researchers, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health, conducted on iron metabolism during pregnancy in the 1940s. Between 1945 and 1949, over 800 pregnant women were given radioactive iron. Standards of informed consent for research subjects were not rigorously enforced at that time,[B] and many of the women were not informed of the potential risks. The injections were later suspected to have caused cancer in at least three of the children who were born to these mothers. In 1998, the university settled a class action lawsuit with the mothers and surviving children for $10.3 million.
Exploration is the university's online research magazine. It publishes multimedia stories that explain campus research projects ranging from archeology to zoology, probe the motives of the explorers that perform these studies, and describe the experiences of Vanderbilt students who become involved in scientific research. Vanderbilt undergraduates also publish a journal of original research. Vanderbilt is a member of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the Universities Space Research Association.
Vanderbilt is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship, and achievement among the member universities in the Southeastern Conference. The SECU's goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students, and universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities.
In 2013, Vanderbilt University participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia, which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and its Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the symposium was titled "The Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future".
|U.S. News & World Report||17|
In its 2013 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanderbilt 17th among all national universities. Most notably, in the same publication's 2010 and 2011 graduate program rankings, the Peabody College of Education was ranked first in the nation among schools of education. In addition, the Vanderbilt Law School was listed at 16th, the School of Medicine was listed at 14th among research-oriented medical schools, the School of Nursing was listed at 15th, the School of Engineering was listed at 34th, and the Owen Graduate School of Management was listed at 25th among business schools.
Additionally, Vanderbilt is ranked first in the nation in the fields of special education, audiology, and education administration. In 2008, the Owen Graduate School of Management was ranked #30 by BusinessWeek.
The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Vanderbilt as the 49th-best university in the world. Additionally the ARWU Field rankings in 2013 placed Vanderbilt Medical Center as the 21st best place in the world for Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy, 31st in Life and Agricultural Sciences, and 21st in Social Sciences. The School of Engineering and the College of Mathematics and Natural Sciences also rank as one of the top in the world. In the Times Higher Education 2013, Vanderbilt is ranked 31st in North America and 88th worldwide. In 2011 QS World University Rankings ranked Vanderbilt university 131st in the world. Human Resources & Labor Review, a national human competitiveness index & analysis, ranked the university as one of 50 Best World Universities in 2011. The 2007 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, a measure of the scholarly output of the faculty of nearly 7,300 doctoral programs around the United States, ranked Vanderbilt 8th among large research universities, and 1st in the areas of comparative literature, educational leadership, pharmacology, Portuguese, Spanish, and special education. Poets & Writers ranked Vanderbilt's English Department's MFA Program in Creative Writing 18th among the top 50 writing programs in the United States in 2010 and 14th in the United States in 2011. Fortune magazine ranked Vanderbilt among the top 100 places to work in the United States, the only university on their list.
The Vanderbilt campus is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southwest of downtown in the West End neighborhood of midtown Nashville. It has an area of 330 acres (1.3 km2), though this figure includes large tracts of sparsely used land in the southwest part of the main campus, as well as the Medical Center. The historical core of campus encompasses approximately 30 acres (0.1 km2). The Vanderbilt campus is roughly fan-shaped (with the point at the corner of West End and 21st Avenues) and reflects the university's gradual expansion to the south and to the west. The campus is relatively compact, however, and the farthest distance on campus takes about 25 minutes to walk.
The oldest part of the Vanderbilt campus is known for its abundance of trees and green space, which stand in contrast to the surrounding cityscape of urban Nashville. The campus was designated as a national arboretum in 1988 by the Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, and approximately 190 species of trees and shrubs can be found on campus. One tree, the Bicentennial Oak between Rand Hall and Garland Hall, is certified to have lived during the American Revolution and is the oldest living thing on the campus.
In the northeast corner of the campus (the base of the fan) is the original campus. The first college buildings, including Kirkland Hall, were erected here in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. This section stretches from West End Avenue south to the Stevenson Center and west from 21st Avenue to Alumni Lawn. The majority of the buildings of the arts and humanities departments of the College of Arts and Science, as well as the facilities of the Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management, and the Divinity School, are located in the original campus. Additionally, the Heard Central Library and Sarratt Student Center/Rand Hall can be found on the original campus.
Flanking the original campus to the south are the Stevenson Center for Science and Mathematics—built on a woodland once known as the Sacred Grove—and the School of Engineering complex (Jacobs Hall-Featheringill Hall). Housing the Science Library, the School of Engineering, and all the science and math departments of the College of Arts and Science, this complex sits between the original campus and the Medical Center. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center itself takes up the southeastern part of the campus. Besides the various associated hospitals and clinics and the facilities of the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, the medical center also houses many major research facilities.
West of the original campus and the Medical Center, Greek Row and the bulk of the Vanderbilt residence halls are found. From north to south, Carmichael Towers, Greek Row, Branscomb Quadrangle, and Highland Quadrangle house the vast majority of on-campus residents in facilities ranging from the double-occupancy shared-bathroom dorms in Branscomb and Towers to the apartments and lodges in Highland Quadrangle. This part of campus is newer than the others; Vanderbilt's westward growth did not start until the 1950s. This portion of campus was built by tearing down small single-family houses and duplexes dating from the early 20th century, and so the area has significantly less green space than the arboretum on the original campus and is more indicative of the university's urban locale.
Memorial Gymnasium, Vanderbilt Stadium, Hawkins Field, McGugin Center, and all the other varsity athletic fields and facilities are to be found in the extreme west of campus. The Student Recreation Center and its associated intramural fields are located south of the varsity facilities.
Directly across 21st Avenue from the Medical Center sits the campus of the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Due to their separate histories until the merger, the Peabody campus was configured in a radically different style than the original Vanderbilt campus. Whereas the latter has an unplanned organic design with buildings scattered throughout, Peabody campus was planned as a geometric design, similar to the Jeffersonian style of the University of Virginia. The campus is home not only to Peabody College but also to The Commons, where all freshmen live together as part of the College Halls plan. While freshman are now residents of The Commons, it was first inhabited by sophomores before being transformed into a center for first-year living. Peabody campus is also adjacent to University School of Nashville (formerly Peabody Demonstration School). PDS was part of the school until 1975, and USN now serves as a resource for students of Peabody.
The university recognizes nearly 400 student organizations, ranging from academic major societies and honoraries to recreational sports clubs, the oldest of which is the Vanderbilt Sailing Club. There are also more than 50 service organizations on campus, including the Vanderbilt-founded Alternative Spring Break, giving students the opportunity to perform community service across the country and around the world.
Despite the lack of an organized journalism curriculum, no less than ten editorially independent media outlets are produced and controlled by students. In addition, a sportswriting scholarship, named for Vanderbilt alumni Fred Russell and Grantland Rice, is awarded each year to an entering Vanderbilt freshman who intends to pursue a career in sportswriting. Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc., (VSC) owns eight print publications, a broadcast radio station, and a closed-circuit television station. One publication, The Vanderbilt Hustler, was established in 1888 and is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Nashville (the newspaper's name references another nickname for the Commodore based on his cutthroat business practices, i.e., that he "hustled" people out of their money). The on-campus radio station, WRVU, represents the student body by playing a range of music from bluegrass to choral, with a focus on non-mainstream music, and students may also have their own talk radio show, while the campus television station, Vanderbilt Television (VTV), showcases student-produced films, skits, and news and entertainment-based shows.
VSC was formed as a not-for-profit corporation in 1967 to insulate the university from potential liability and to maintain journalistic independence after a series of controversial articles published by The Hustler. During the 1970s, VSC funded a visiting journalist position to provide advice and counsel to its various operating units. Initially, the directors of VSC included a faculty chairman of the board of directors, several student directors, and an outside journalist director. Among the earlier journalist directors was John Seigenthaler, the then-president, publisher, and editor of The Tennessean, who also played an instrumental role in the creation of USA Today.
Greeks are an active part of the social scene on and off campus, and the university is home to 14 fraternities and 10 sororities as of Spring 2011. As of 2006–2007, 35% of men were members of fraternities and 49% of women were members of sororities, or 42% of the total undergraduate population.
In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2011, four Christian student organizations were placed on probation due to non-compliance with the university's nondiscrimination policy, which requires student groups to accept all students and forbids them from requiring that their officers share the "beliefs, goals and values" embodied in the group. Controversy continued to surround this issue throughout 2011 and 2012, culminating in a proposed state law exempting student organizations from nondiscrimination policies. Although the bill passed both houses of the state legislature, Governor Haslam vetoed it.
Since the first classes began at Vanderbilt, the Honor System has served to strengthen the academic integrity of the university. Its principles were outlined in a famous quote by long-time Dean of Students Madison Sarratt:
Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry, for there are many good men in this world today who cannot pass an examination in trigonometry, but there are no good men in the world who cannot pass an examination in honesty.
As a part of their first act together as a class, each Vanderbilt class meets together at the Honor Code Signing Ceremony, where every member of the class pledges their honor and signs the code. The signed pages are then hung in the Sarratt Student Center. The tradition started with the class of 2002. The ceremony is one of only three occasions where a class will be congregated in a single place at the same time (the others being Convocation and Commencement).
The Undergraduate Honor Council was formed to help enforce and protect the tradition of the Honor Code. Today, the Honor Council serves two simultaneous aims: to enforce and protect the Honor Code and to inform members of the Vanderbilt community about the Honor System.
Generally, undergraduate students are required to live in dorms on campus. Exceptions are made for students living with relatives in Davidson County, students with health exemptions, married students, and some students with senior standing. Approximately 83% of undergraduates—freshmen, sophomores, nearly all juniors and most seniors—currently live on campus. The remaining undergraduates join graduate and professional students in living off-campus. Student life at Vanderbilt is consequently heavily intertwined with campus life.
However, the on-campus residential system is currently undergoing a radical change. The new system, announced by the administration in 2002, would change the current structure of quadrangle-based residence halls to a new system of residential colleges, to be called "College Halls". Similar to the residential structures at Caltech, Cornell, Harvard, Rice, and Yale, the new College Halls system would create residence halls where students and faculty would live together in a self-contained environment, complete with study rooms, cafeterias, laundry facilities, and stores. This project is now underway and is scheduled to be completed within the next 20 years.
The first step in the College Halls system is The Commons, a collection of ten residential halls on the Peabody campus that houses all first-year students. It is hoped that The Commons will give first-year students a unified (and unifying) living-learning experience. Vanderbilt renovated five existing residence halls on Peabody and built five new halls to complement them. Two of the new residence halls have received LEED silver certification and the new Commons Dining Center has received gold certification, making Vanderbilt the only university in the state to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council. The university expects all five of the new residence halls and one renovated residence hall to eventually receive LEED recognition. The total cost of The Commons construction project is expected to be over $150 million.
University administrators believe the undergraduate community receives the greatest benefit from living in on-campus residence halls, citing increased interaction with faculty, better academic performance, and stronger interpersonal relationships.
The university broke ground in May 2012 on Kissam College Halls, two colleges that will each house about 330 upperclass students–a mixture of sophomores, juniors and seniors–and be led by faculty directors in residence. Each college will also be divided into two halls led by a graduate fellow. The six existing Kissam Quadrangle buildings, located near the intersection of West End Avenue and 21st Avenue South, will be demolished to make way for the two colleges that will be connected by a shared facility providing gathering space, “grab-and-go” dining options, a classroom, offices and meeting rooms.
The $115 million project, a top initiative of Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Funding for the project will be provided entirely through philanthropy and internal resources.
Vanderbilt is a charter member of the Southeastern Conference and is the conference's only private school. The university fields six men's and nine women's intercollegiate teams. With fewer than 6,600 undergraduates, the school is also the smallest in the conference; the SEC's next-smallest school, the University of Mississippi, has nearly twice as many undergraduate students. Additionally, the school is a member of the American Lacrosse Conference for women's lacrosse, as the SEC does not sponsor that sport. Conversely, Vanderbilt is the only league school not to field teams in softball and volleyball, but has discussed adding either or both sports in the future.
Men's and women's tennis and men's and women's basketball are traditionally Vanderbilt's strongest sports. Both teams play in quirky Memorial Gym, built in 1952. Memorial Gym is noted for the location of the team benches on the baselines, the four separate sections of stands on the four sides of the court, the distance of the stands from the court and the elevation of the court above the first few rows of seats on each sideline. The homecourt advantage Vanderbilt has enjoyed has been nicknamed "Memorial Magic". The more recently founded women's lacrosse and bowling programs as well as the long-standing men's baseball program are also experiencing moderate national success. After enjoying success in the first half of the 20th century, the football program has generally struggled in more recent times. However, the 2008 Commodore football team finished with its first winning season in over 25 years and with its first postseason win in over 50 years.
In September 2003, Vanderbilt earned national attention when it announced that it was eliminating its athletic department. Then-Chancellor Gee called Vanderbilt's varsity athletes "isolated", and insisted that student-athletes would perform better if they were integrated into the rest of the student body. So rather than administer athletics separately from student life, Gee folded the university's varsity teams into the Office of Student Life, the same group that oversees all student organizations. The university is unique in Division I in this regard. Despite fears that Vanderbilt would lose coaches and recruits or would be forced out of the SEC, the university has experienced considerable success since the change; 2006–07 was one of the best in the school's athletic history. At one point, seven of Vanderbilt's 16 teams were concurrently ranked in the Top 25 of their respective sports. Women's bowling won the NCAA championship, bringing the university its first and only team championship since the advent of the NCAA. The baseball team qualified for the NCAA Super Regionals in 2004, had the nation's top recruiting class in 2005 according to Baseball America, made the NCAA field again in 2006, and won the 2007 SEC regular-season and tournament championships. Vanderbilt was ranked first in most polls for a large portion of the 2007 season, and the team secured the top seed in the 2007 NCAA tournament.
Vanderbilt's intercollegiate athletics teams are nicknamed the Commodores, in honor of the nickname given to Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his fortune in shipping. Students and alumni refer to Vanderbilt athletic teams as the "Dores" and use several cheers, including "Who ya with?" (usually responded to with "V-U!"), "Anchor Down" and "Go Dores!"
The term commodore was used by the Navy during the mid-to-late 19th century. A commodore was the commanding officer of a task force of ships, and therefore higher in rank than a captain but lower in rank than an admiral. The rank is still used by the British Royal Navy and other Commonwealth countries, but the equivalent modern-day rank in the U.S. Navy is rear admiral lower half. Since the term was used most during the 19th century, Vanderbilt's mascot, "Mr. C", is usually portrayed as a naval officer from the late 19th century, complete with mutton chops, cutlass, and uniform.
Vanderbilt has approximately 114,000 living alumni, with 31 alumni clubs established worldwide. Many Vanderbilt alumni have gone on to make significant contributions in politics. Lamar Alexander (B.A. 1962) is a current U.S. Senator, former Governor of Tennessee, former U.S. Secretary of Education, and former U.S. presidential candidate; he filled the Senate seat left vacant by the retirement of Fred Thompson (J.D. 1971). Two U.S. vice presidents, John Nance Garner and Al Gore, attended the university, but did not graduate. However, Gore's ex-wife, Tipper, is herself an alumna, receiving a master's degree from Peabody in 1975. Other alumni who are or have been involved in politics include former United States Supreme Court Associate Justice and former U.S. Attorney General James Clark McReynolds (B.S. 1882), Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute David Boaz (B.A. 1975), and former White House Chief of Staff John R. Steelman (M.A. 1924). Bill Frist, a cardiothoracic surgeon and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, is a faculty member at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The President of Puntland and former Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (M.A. 1988), is also an alumnus of Peabody College.
Within the business world, Vanderbilt alumni have gone on to serve in a number of key leadership roles; alumni include Ann S. Moore (B.A. 1971), former Chairman and CEO of Time, Inc.; Doug Parker (M.B.A. 1986), President and CEO of US Airways; and Matthew J. Hart (B.A. 1974), former President/COO of Hilton Hotels. Vanderbilt also has an intimate connection to the contemporary management consulting industry. In particular, the founders of two of the three most prominent management consulting firms graduated with undergraduate degrees from the university. Bruce Henderson, founder of The Boston Consulting Group, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1937, while Bill Bain, founder of Bain and Company, graduated in 1959 with Phi Beta Kappa honors in history, and currently serves on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.
Three alumni, biochemist Stanford Moore (B.A. 1935), economist and microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus (Ph.D. 1971), and former Vice President Al Gore have won the Nobel Prize. Four current or former members of the faculty also share that distinction: biochemist Stanley Cohen, physiologist Earl Sutherland, and pioneer molecular biologist Max Delbrück; Nobel laureate and neuroscientist Paul Greengard was a visiting scholar. Alain Connes and Vaughan Jones, both Fields Medalists, are Distinguished Professors of Mathematics at the university. In addition, the university has a rich literary and journalistic legacy. Most notably, the Southern Agrarians were a group of influential American writers and poets in the 1920s and 1930s based at Vanderbilt. Three U.S. Poets Laureate are Vanderbilt alums: Allen Tate (B.A. 1922), Robert Penn Warren (B.A. 1925), and Randall Jarrell (M.A. 1938). Warren later went on to the win the Pulitzer Prize. Novelists James Dickey (B.A. 1949) and James Patterson (M.A. 1970) also graduated from Vanderbilt. Two well-known sportswriters, Grantland Rice (B.A. 1901) and Fred Russell (B.A. 1927), have a scholarship named after them at the university, and Buster Olney (B.A. 1988) writes for ESPN.com and The New York Times. Journalist David Brinkley attended briefly. Skip Bayless (B.A. 1974) of ESPN First Take attended Vanderbilt as a recipient of the Russell-Rice scholarship. Willie Geist (B.A. 1997) is a host of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Vanderbilt alumna Hildy Kuryk is the director of communications at Vogue and former senior New York finance consultant for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
Current Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (B.S. 2005) is also a Vanderbilt alum and was drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Cutler's teammate and offensive tackle Chris Williams (B.S. 2008) was a first round pick by the Bears in 2008.
Vanderbilt also produced the first overall draft pick of Major League Baseball in 2007 with David Price and the second overall draft pick of Major League Baseball in 2008 with Pedro Alvarez. Price and Alvarez were drafted by the then-named Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively. Pitcher Josh Zeid made his major league debut with the Houston Astros in 2013. ESPN basketball analyst Carolyn Peck was a standout member of the Commodores' basketball program from 1985–1988, eventually becoming a head coach and leading the Purdue Boilermakers women's basketball team to a national championship in 1999.
Given the university's location in Nashville, many of its alumni become involved in the music industry. Dinah Shore (B.A. 1938), Rosanne Cash (B.A. 1979), Amy Grant (B.A. 1982), and Dierks Bentley (B.A. 1997) are all alumni. Shore later went on to star in a variety of films; other Vanderbilt alumni with Hollywood connections include Academy Award-winners Delbert Mann (B.A. 1941) and Tom Schulman (B.A. 1972) and Joe Bob Briggs (B.A. 1974).
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