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Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University (colloquially known as Vandy) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1873 with a gift of $1 million by shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt, despite having never been to the South, hoped his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Today, Vanderbilt enrolls around 11,000 students in ten schools—four undergraduate and six graduate and professional. Also affiliated with the university are several research facilities and a world-renowned medical center, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), which is the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Middle Tennessee. Vanderbilt is one of North America's top research institutions and is a member of the Association of American Universities, to whose membership Vanderbilt was elected in 1950.

* 1 History
o 1.1 Founding
o 1.2 Early years
o 1.3 Contemporary Vanderbilt
* 2 Organization
o 2.1 Board of Trust
o 2.2 Chancellor
o 2.3 Academic divisions
* 3 Students and faculty
* 4 Campus
o 4.1 Layout
o 4.2 Arboretum
* 5 Student life
o 5.1 Organizations
o 5.2 Student housing
* 6 Media
* 7 Medical Center
* 8 Rankings and unusual research
* 9 Myths
* 10 Athletics
* 11 Notable faculty and alumni
* 12 References
* 13 See also
* 14 External Links


Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt

In the years prior to the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South had been considering creating a regional university for the training of ministers. Through the lobbying of Nashville bishop Holland McTyeire, church leaders voted in 1872 to create a "Central University" in Nashville. However, lack of funds (and the war-ravaged state of the South) delayed the opening of the college.

The following year, on a medical trip to New York, McTyeire stayed at the residence of "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose second wife was the cousin of McTyeire's wife. Vanderbilt, the wealthiest man in America at the time, had been considering philanthropy causes as he was at an advanced age. His original plan was to establish a university on Staten Island, New York in honor of his mother. However, McTyeire successfully convinced him to donate $500,000 to endow Central University. The endowment (later increased to $1 million) would be Vanderbilt's only philanthropy. Though the Commodore never expressed any desire to have the university named after himself, McTyeire and his fellow trustees soon rechristened the school as Vanderbilt University.

Early years
Kirkland Hall, home of Vanderbilt's administration
Kirkland Hall, home of Vanderbilt's administration

In the fall of 1875, about 200 students enrolled at Vanderbilt; the university was dedicated in October of that year. Bishop McTyeire, who had been named chairman of the Board of Trust for life by Vanderbilt as a stipulation of his endowment, named Landon Garland, 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.

For the first 40 years, the Board of Trust (and therefore the university itself) was under the control of the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. However, tensions began rising 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. Conflicts escalated with the appointment of James Kirkland as chancellor in 1893. The final straw, at least in the mind of Kirkland, was a failed campaign to raise $300,000 from Southern Methodist congregations (only $50,000 was raised). Further disputes between the bishops and Kirkland, which erupted into litigation in 1912, led the Methodist conference to sever all ties with Vanderbilt University in June 1914.

Contemporary Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt experienced an early peak of its 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.

In 1966, Oberlin Graduate School of Theology moved from Ohio to Nashville, in order to merge with the Vanderbilt Divinity School. In 1979, Vanderbilt absorbed its neighbor Peabody College.
Memorial Hall, located on the Peabody campus
Memorial Hall, located on the Peabody campus

In the late 1950s, the Vanderbilt Divinity School became something of a hotbed of the emerging Civil Rights movement, and the university expelled one of its leaders, James Lawson. Much later, in 2005, he was made a Distinguished Alumnus for his achievements and re-hired as a Distinguished University Professor for the 2006-07 academic year. [1]

As with Lawson, the university drew national attention in 1966, when it recruited the first African American athlete in the Southeastern Conference, Perry Wallace. Wallace, from Pearl, Mississippi, played varsity basketball for Vanderbilt from 1967-1970, and faced considerable opposition from segregationists when playing at other SEC venues. In 2004, a student-led drive to have Wallace's jersey retired finally succeeded.

History, race, and civil rights issues again came to the fore on the campus in 2002, when the university decided to rename a dormitory on the Peabody campus, Confederate Memorial Hall, to Memorial Hall. Nationwide attention resulted, in part due to a lawsuit by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who had helped pay for the building's construction in 1933 with a $50,000 contribution. [2]

The Davidson County Chancery Court dismissed the lawsuit in 2003, but the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in May 2005 that the university would have to pay damages based on the present value of the United Daughters of the Confederacy's contribution if an inscription bearing the name "Confederate Memorial Hall" were to be removed from the building or altered. In late July of 2005, the university announced that although it has 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. Meanwhile, racial diversity in campus admissions has increased in recent years, with 22.7% of the Class of 2009 being students of color.

The Vanderbilt University Seal
The Vanderbilt University Seal

Board of Trust

Vanderbilt University, as any private corporation, is wholly governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trust. The Board is comprised of 45 regular members (plus any number of trustees emeriti) and the Chancellor. Each trustee serves a five-year term (except for four recently-graduated undergraduates, whom serve four-year terms). A complete, up-to-date listing of the members of the Board of Trust can be found here. Martha Rivers Ingram is the current Chairman of the Board of Trust.

Gordon Gee
Gordon Gee

Gordon Gee is the current Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Appointed by the Board of Trust, he is the chief executive officer of the university, and serves only at the pleasure of the Board. Prior to his appointment in February 2000, Gee served as president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Prior to Gee, the following men served as chancellor:
Chancellors of Vanderbilt University Tenure Notes
1 Landon Garland 1875–1893 Organized structure of university
2 James Kirkland 1893–1937 Longest-serving chancellor
3 Oliver Carmichael 1937–1946 -
4 Harvie Branscomb 1946–1962 -
5 Alexander Heard 1963–1982 -
6 Joe B. Wyatt 1982–2000 Raised endownment

Academic divisions

Vanderbilt University is currently divided into ten degree-granting units. Each division except the Graduate School is headed by a dean. The divisions of the university (and their current heads) are:
Academic Division Dean
College of Arts and Science Richard McCarty
Blair School of Music Mark Wait
School of Engineering Kenneth F. Galloway
Peabody College of Education and Human Development Camilla Benbow
Graduate School Dennis Hall [3]
Divinity School James Hudnut-Beumler
Law School Edward L. Rubin
School of Medicine Steven G. Gabbe
School of Nursing Colleen Conway-Welch
Owen Graduate School of Management Jim Bradford

↑ Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Education

Students and faculty

As of fall 2005, the last semester for which comprehensive data have been published, the university had an enrollment of 6,402 undergraduate and 5,079 graduate and professional students. Approximately 55% of the total student body comes from outside the Southeast, including some 8.5% from outside the United States. Moreover, 22.7% of the undergraduate class of 2009 were non-Caucasian.

With nearly 20,000 employees, Vanderbilt is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee and the second largest in the state (after FedEx, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee). The vast majority of those employees are staff at the medical center (see below). Of the 2,527 full-time faculty employed by the university, 1,625 are Medical Center faculty (specifically the schools of Medicine and Nursing) and 902 are University Central (non-Medical Center) faculty.

In 2004, the university reported that 24.1% of University Central faculty were women and 14.4% were minorities. In 2003, seventeen were members of one of the National Academies.


The Vanderbilt campus is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of downtown in the West End neighborhood of midtown Nashville. It has an area of 330 acres (1.3 km˛), though this figure includes large tracts of sparsely used land in the southwest part of the main campus, as well the medical center. The original academic quad is approximately 30 acres (12 ha) in area.

Click here to see a campus map.

Corner of 21st and West End
Corner of 21st and West End
Stevenson Center, as seen from Buttrick Hall
Stevenson Center, as seen from Buttrick Hall

The Vanderbilt campus is roughly fan-shaped (with the point at the corner of West End and 21st Avenues) and divisible into six sections.

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, and the Divinity School, are located in the original campus. Additionally, the Jean and Alexander Heard Memorial 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 and the School of Engineering complex (Jacobs Hall-Featheringill Hall). Housing all science and math departments of the College of Arts and Science, save for psychology, and the School of Engineering, this sprawling complex seperates the original campus from 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 research facilities.

Directly across 21st Avenue from the Medical Center stands the campus of the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Due to their separate histories until the merger, the Peabody campus is configured in a radically different style than the original campus. Whereas the latter has an organic design, the Peabody campus is designed geometrically, similar to the Jeffersonian style of the University of Virginia. The campus is home to not only Peabody College but also the future Commons, where all freshmen will live together as part of the College Halls plan.

West of the original campus and the Medical Center, Greek Row and the bulk of Vanderbilt residence halls can be found. From north to south, Carmichael Towers, Greek Row, Branscomb Quadrangle, and Highland quad house the vast majority of on-campus residence in facilities ranging from the double-occupancy shared-bathroom dorms in Branscomb and Towers to the apartments and lodges on Highland Quad. This part of campus is newer than the others; Vanderbilt's westward growth did not start until the 1950's. Consequently, this portion of campus is significantly less green than the arboretum on the orginal campus and more indicative of the University's urban local.

Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt Stadium, and all other athletic fields and facilities are to be found in the extreme west of campus.

Bicentennial Oak, facing Buttrick Hall
Bicentennial Oak, facing Buttrick Hall
National Arboretum Plaque.
National Arboretum Plaque.

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. At least one specimen of every tree that is indigenous to the state of Tennessee grows 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 thing on the campus.

The main (original) campus was designated by the Association of Botanical Gardens and Aboreta as a national arboretum in 1988, a status that the university does not take lightly. One interesting consequence of this designation that any visitor to the campus will quickly notice is the length to which trees on campus are protected. Signs posted on the trees by various student groups are actually bound to the trees with wire instead of being nailed to the tree, as it is unlawful to cause damage to any tree in a national arboretum.

Student life

2004 Homecoming Regatta. The Sailing Club is just one of nearly 400 student organizations.
2004 Homecoming Regatta. The Sailing Club is just one of nearly 400 student organizations.

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. The campus radio station, WRVU, represents the student body by playing a range of music from bluegrass to choral. There are also more than thirty service organizations on campus, giving students the opportunity to perform community service across the country and around the world.

As of spring 2004, 45% of the undergraduate student body was affiliated with one of 34 social Greek organizations. Specifically, 34% of men were members of fraternities and 55% of women were members of sororities.

A well-respected Honor Code maintains the highest integrity in all academic work.

Student housing

All undergraduate students not living with relatives in Davidson County are required to live on campus all four years to the extent that on-campus student housing facilities can accommodate them. Therefore, in reality, approximately 80% of undergraduates—freshmen, sophomores, and nearly all juniors—live on campus, while many senior undergraduates and graduate/professional students live near campus. Consequently, student life at Vanderbilt is heavily intertwined with campus life.

Vanderbilt is currently in the process of radically converting its residential system. The plan, announced by the administration in 2002, would change the current structure of quadrangle-based residence halls to a new system of residential colleges. Similar to the residential structure at Yale and Princeton, the new system, entitled "College Halls" by Vanderbilt, would create residence halls where students and faculty would live together in a self-sustaining environment for growth with study rooms, cafeterias, laundry facilities, and stores. The change is being made in the hope of fostering a better learning atmosphere for students living on campus, as well as making students less reliant on Greek life for social status. While there will still be Greek organizations, the College Halls system will establish a social structure for those students who chose not to join a fraternity or sorority. This project is well underway and is scheduled to be completed within the next twenty years.

The first step in the College Halls system will be The Commons, a collection of ten residential halls on the Peabody campus that will house all first-year students beginning in the fall of 2008. While the university currently houses freshmen in three separate and very distinct residential areas, it is hoped that The Commons will give first-year students a unified (and unifying) living-learning experience. In order to accommodate these ten residential halls, the university is in the process of renovating five existing Peabody dormitories and building five new ones. One trade-off of this proposed plan, though, comes in the form of graduate student housing and housing for students with families. The residential halls that previously housed these two groups were demolished to make room for The Commons, and the university currently has no plans to construct new housing for them.

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