In addressing the faculty senate at the beginning of the academic year, Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, stated that “if Vanderbilt does not address issues of diversity, inclusion and culture, and [instead] acts like everything is just fine, it will fail as an institution. This is a project of great importance. It is the most important thing I’m going to be spending my time on. At the center, it’s really a matter of race. It is America’s most fundamental challenge.”
Part of the new diversity initiative is the establishment of three endowed chairs that will bring scholars to the Vanderbilt campus who will be leading figures in disciplines that match the chancellor’s vision of a diverse university.
- The John L. Seigenthaler Chair in History will bring a scholar to campus who focuses on civil rights or the civil rights movement.
- The holder of Dorothy J. Phillips Chair to Support Diversity in STEM will oversee efforts to increase the number of minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.
- The Levi Watkins Jr. M.D. Chair will be filled by a scholar at the university’s medical school who is a leader on diversity issues.