At the start of this school year, I had the honor of speaking to freshmen and sophomores at Vanderbilt — in person this time — as part of our annual Founders Walk. The occasion was also meaningful to me and our new provost, Cybele Raveras I hope it was for the students and families gathered on this glorious late summer day on the Alumni Lawn.
In my first year as Chancellor, I have witnessed the extraordinary efforts of all members of the Vanderbilt community to pursue our mission of scholarship, creative expression and education despite the multiple challenges we faced. confronted. It was our proudest moment, but moreover, it clarified my first impressions of the enduring strength of Vanderbilt’s culture.
By rallying around a common goal, then working in close partnership with a drive for excellence, we have achieved more than we ever thought possible. This tremendous achievement was only possible because we acted as one community, guided by a common purpose and grounded in shared values: The Vanderbilt Way.
It all starts with a sense of belonging to our community. We have high expectations of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Joining Vanderbilt isn’t easy, but we go on knowing that there are Commodores everywhere, from all walks of life and in all parts of the world.
The Vanderbilt Way means we have a strong sense of self-reliance. The Commodores chart their own course. As you will read in the story of alumnus and diversity director, Dr. André Churchwell, members of the Vanderbilt community strive to achieve their dreams, despite the obstacles that arise. Members of the Vanderbilt community are relentlessly forging their own paths, as seen in the article about alumnus Jenny Qi, an accomplished scientist whose new collection of poetry has just been released to great acclaim.
Finally, the Vanderbilt Way means working together in a spirit of collaboration to advance the good of our university and our society. One of the best examples of this is Dr. Alex Jahangir, a Vanderbilt physician and alumnus of our healthcare management program, who is featured in a Q&A talking about his work leading the COVID-19 response. 19 from Nashville.
Vanderbilt is a place where standing together means as much as standing out. The Vanderbilt Way is about collaborating – working with each other as alumni, students, faculty, and staff so that we can always grow together.
As members of our community, you are an integral part of the Vanderbilt Way. Alumni, in particular, are the stewards of Vanderbilt who ensure that we honor our best traditions while continuing to move our university forward. I appreciate all you have done for Vanderbilt and look forward to forging a bright future together.