April 28, 2014

Prominent scientist, respected administrator Susan Wente named Vanderbilt provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs

After an extensive national search, Susan R. Wente has been named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced today.

Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)

After an extensive national search, Susan R. Wente, a distinguished biomedical scientist who has served as associate vice chancellor for research at Vanderbilt for the past five years and currently leads the academic strategic planning process across the entire institution, has been named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced today.

Wente is also senior associate dean of biomedical sciences and professor of cell and developmental biology in the School of Medicine. In the past year, she has taken on the additional role of co-chairing the executive committee of the university-wide academic strategic plan to set the course for Vanderbilt’s future.

“Susan is a strong and confident leader and a brilliant scholar, who is exceptionally well positioned to keep Vanderbilt on a bold and exciting path,” Zeppos said. “As a co-chair of our strategic planning process, she has had great influence on Vanderbilt’s plan for the future. Now I anticipate with relish her leadership as provost in bringing the plan to fruition.”

Wente was chosen as the university’s chief academic officer on the recommendation of a search committee, chaired by Zeppos, that included faculty, administrators and Vanderbilt Board of Trust member Eugene B. Shanks Jr. She will assume her new duties July 1, pending confirmation by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.

Wente will succeed Richard McCarty, who is stepping down after serving the past six years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Wente said she is “thrilled and honored to have the privilege to serve the students, faculty and staff” in her new role, and thanked the chancellor and the search committee for the opportunity.

“[lquote]I look forward to learning more and to continuing to help lay the foundation for our future,” she said.[/lquote] “I am deeply committed to Vanderbilt’s academic missions of excellence in discovering and learning. It is such an exciting time at Vanderbilt, and we are poised to work collaboratively to make the most of our distinctive research and education strengths across the university.”

As associate vice chancellor for research, Wente is involved in promoting research discoveries, providing the optimal infrastructure to support basic science research, and designing strategic planning for Vanderbilt’s basic science research efforts.

In her role of senior associate dean of biomedical sciences, she spearheads the basic science education and post-doctorate training of more than 600 graduate students and more than 500 post-doctoral fellows and several trans-institutional graduate programs.

She continues to operate her lab, and her work studying the mechanism for highly selective, bidirectional exchange of proteins and genetic material between the nucleus and cytoplasm has been nationally recognized.

As provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Wente will have responsibility for academic programs, including Blair School of Music, the College of Arts and Science, the Divinity School, the School of Engineering, the Graduate School, the Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management and Peabody College of education and human development, as well as student affairs, housing, admissions and financial aid, and research.

Wente, born in Nebraska and raised in rural Iowa, earned her bachelor of science from the University of Iowa, graduating with honors and high distinction in biochemistry. She went on to the University of California–Berkeley, where she received a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She did post-doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as well as a fellowship at Rockefeller University.

In 1996, while on the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, she and her colleagues discovered Gle1, a protein involved in gene regulation.

She came to Vanderbilt in 2002 as professor and chair of Cell and Developmental Biology. Six years later, a link between the Gle1 gene and a lethal human fetal disease was reported. Her lab continues to explore the communications pathways within cells between the nucleus and cytoplasm.

In 2011, Wente received the Women in Cell Biology Senior Career Recognition Award from the American Society of Cell Biology. In 2010 she received a prestigious MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award, given only to the best scientists in the nation, from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research on nuclear pore complexes.

She was recently named a “2014 Woman to Watch” by Nashville Medical News.

Wente is married to Chris Hardy, a geneticist, and they have two daughters – Allison, a freshman at Smith College, and Lindsay, a freshman at the University School of Nashville.