September 8, 2000

Gee addresses faculty with goals and challenges

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Chancellor E. Gordon Gee addresses the faculty at VUMC’s Langford Auditorium. He outlined a goal of community involvement and better communication within the University. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Gee addresses faculty with goals and challenges

Vanderbilt University Chancellor E. Gordon Gee began an “ongoing conversation” with faculty Aug. 31 by pointedly suggesting an end to the “Vanderbubble,” a reference to the school’s perception as an isolated, elitist institution.

The school faces a “challenge to seize the opportunity to become more involved,” Gee told the Langford Auditorium assembly of about 700 faculty, which also was an occasion to award 19 25-year chairs and the Thomas Jefferson Award to Jimmie Franklin, professor of History.

Gee encouraged greater participation and communication between faculty, administrators and students and he forecast more active recruitment and enrollment of minority students and staff.

Vanderbilt’s mix of undergraduate, professional and medical education, as well as its depth of research, makes for a fertile environment for diversity, Gee said.

“At Vanderbilt, teaching and research are more balanced here than at other institutions,” Gee said. But, he said, the school operates within a verticle model, one that limits viewpoints and ultimately academic growth. He said the school will shift to a more inclusive horizontal model of administration and communication.

Gee outlined challenges for the institution to accomplish, including renewing our commitment to the undergraduate experience; re-inventing graduate programs to be the pacesetter for the future; re-integrating professional education; re-examing and restructuring the school’s economic model; and establishing a “covenant with the community.”

“We are great because we are different,” Gee said. “We have so much to achieve over time.