November 3, 2014

Chancellor launches Trans-institutional Programs initiative; pre-proposals due Dec. 2

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos formally launched the new $50 million Trans-institutional Programs initiative outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan in an email to the Vanderbilt community earlier today.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos formally launched the new $50 million Trans-institutional Programs initiative outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan in an email to the Vanderbilt community earlier today.

“We are investing in trans-institutional programs because we believe this is the kind of collaboration that can dramatically change the world for the better and because we believe Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of that change,” Zeppos said. “The new Academic Strategic Plan is a roadmap to steer Vanderbilt to new heights through ever-increasing collaboration among schools, researchers and students, and these trans-institutional programs are critical to its successful implementation.”

Trans-institutional programs, or TIPs, are cross-college initiatives involving partnerships that interweave diverse perspectives, features, methods and information to foster creativity in both discovery and learning. The TIPs investment will unfold over the next five years. This multi-year commitment reflects a significant investment to forge greater collaboration on important questions and problems that lie at the intersection of disciplines.

Zeppos has appointed faculty from across the institution to the TIPs Council, which will be led by Vice Provost for Academic and Strategic Affairs John Geer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Lawrence Marnett. The TIPs Council, which was a recommendation of the Academic Strategic Plan, will facilitate the development and support of new trans-institutional efforts.  The council will identify ambitious, innovative and inspiring proposals that address society’s most pressing problems as well as the criteria by which they will be selected for investment. To assist the council in its decisions, Zeppos also has appointed three review panels made up of a cross section of faculty across all 10 colleges.

“One of the main reasons the brightest faculty and students are drawn to Vanderbilt is because of our collaborative nature and the opportunity to advance not only their own research programs, but also to join forces with colleagues in other disciplines on truly game-changing teaching and discovery,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente said. Wente and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Jeff Balser will serve as ex officio members of the TIPs council.

“By making a significant investment in this type of collaboration, we are not only increasing our ability to make an impact in critical research areas, we are further demonstrating that collaboration is not just a notion but a core value of our university,” Wente said.

This new initiative is the next logical step in building strength in trans-institutional programs begun as a result of the 2002 Academic Strategic Plan. The Academic Venture Capital Fund was launched as part of that plan and gave rise to important new investments in interdisciplinary work as it broke down many long-standing barriers. The 2002 effort helped make One Vanderbilt a reality. The new TIPs process will build on those successes.

“The creative spirit promoted in these centers has enhanced faculty recruitment and retention as well as created an appreciation for the role of disciplinary strength in solving problems that are interdisciplinary in nature,” according to the 2012 update of the 2002 Academic Strategic Plan.

Going forward, university officials plan on more risk-taking, less focus on centers, and a larger role for learning and teaching by making initial smaller, but strategically motivated, investments into exciting new ideas.

“Giving priority to smaller, ‘incubator’ phases for testing collaborations before advancing to bigger programs and investments will allow Vanderbilt to be opportunistic and responsive and will allow us to leverage most effectively precious institutional resources,” Balser said. “The ability to be nimble is critical during this time of tremendous change in health care and in research overall. The TIPs program will allow us to move quickly when unexpected and exciting collaborative possibilities arise.”

Short, three-page pre-proposals for TIPs funding are due Dec. 2. The council will then invite full proposals from among these early submissions. The full proposals will be due in late January. The details of the process will be released on Nov. 3.  Awards will be made by the end of the spring semester, with funds being available by July 1, 2015.

Full information about eligibility criteria, the selection process, proposal categories, proposal guidelines, submission instructions, deadlines and FAQs are available on the TIPs section of the Office of the Provost website. Questions for the TIPs Council should be sent to

Members of the TIPs Council and panels are as follows:

TIPs Review Council

  • Co-chair John Geer, vice provost for academic and strategic affairs, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science
  • Co-chair Larry Marnett, associate vice chancellor for research, University Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry
  • Doug Adams, Daniel F. Flowers Professor of Engineering
  • Larry Bartels, May Werthan Shayne Professor of Public Policy and Social Science
  • Melinda Buntin, research professor of health policy
  • Lynn Fuchs, Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development
  • Tracey George, Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Professor of Law and Liberty
  • Tina Hartert, Lulu H. Owen Professor of Medicine
  • Dana Nelson, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English
  • Rangaraj Ramanujam, professor of management
  • Mark Wait, Martha Rivers Ingram Dean of the Blair School of Music
  • Susan Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, ex officio
  • Jeffrey Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, ex officio

TIPs Review Panel 1

  • Co-chair Sohee Park, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Psychology
  • Co-chair Holly Tucker, professor of French
  • Ellen Armour, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology
  • Andre Christie-Mizell, associate professor of sociology
  • Michael DeBaun, J.C. Peterson, M.D. Professor of Pediatric Pulmonology
  • John Gore, Hertha Ramsey Cress Professor of Medicine
  • James Patton, Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences
  • Steve Posavac, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Marketing
  • Beth Shinn, professor of human and organizational development
  • Chris Slobogin, Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law
  • Keivan Stassun, professor of astronomy
  • Betsy Weiner, Centennial Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing

TIPs Review Panel 2

  • Co-chair Nancy King, Lee S. and Charles A. Speir Professor of Law
  • Co-chair Charles Sanders, Aileen M. Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Professor of Cardiovascular Research
  • Italo Biaggioni, professor of medicine
  • David Calkins, Denis M. O’Day, M.B.B.S. Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Laurie Cutting, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education
  • Andrew Daugherty, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Economics, professor of law
  • Katharine Donato, professor of sociology
  • Kane Jennings, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering
  • Vaughan Jones, Stevenson Distinguished Professor of Mathematics
  • Lutz Koepnick, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of German
  • Betsey Robinson, associate professor of history of art and anthropology
  • Cecelia Tichi, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English

TIPs Review Panel 3

  • Co-chair David Dickinson, professor of education
  • Co-chair Danny Winder, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics
  • Dale Andrews, Distinguished Professor of Homiletics and Social Justice
  • Nicholas Bollen, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Finance
  • Sarah Igo, associate professor of history
  • Tina Iverson, associate professor of pharmacology
  • David Lewis, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science
  • John McLean, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry
  • Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Orrin H. Ingram Professor of Engineering
  • Ann Minnick, Julia Eleanor Blair Chenault Professor of Nursing
  • Tiffiny Tung, associate professor of anthropology
  • Mel Ziegler, professor of art