March 7, 2008

Zeppos named Vanderbilt Chancellor

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Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos

Nicholas S. Zeppos was chosen last weekend as Vanderbilt University's eighth chancellor, effective immediately.

The unanimous election of Zeppos, who has served as Vanderbilt's chief academic officer since 2002 and its interim chancellor since last summer, was announced following the final session of the Board of Trust's winter meeting.

At a press conference following the announcement, Zeppos stressed the importance of a strong medical center.

“I want Vanderbilt to continue to be a leader in health care and health care policy on the local, national and international levels,” Zeppos said. “Health care is, and will continue to be, a priority and we will work to continue to be a leader in addressing the diseases that plague so many people in the world.”

Zeppos was chosen as chancellor after a national search.

“Vanderbilt set the highest possible standard in seeking our next chancellor,” said Dennis C. Bottorff, chair of a nine-member search committee that has been at work since the resignation of Gordon Gee on Aug. 1, 2007. “We wanted someone with an effective balance of executive leadership and scholarship, an individual who understands the centrality of the undergraduate experience and, at the same time, recognizes the crucial role of our graduate and professional schools and Medical Center.

“Our search identified the person who uniquely possesses these qualities, and he is Nick Zeppos.”

Martha Ingram, chair of the Board of Trust, said, “I have come to know Nick Zeppos as a scholar, a teacher, an executive, an advocate and a friend, and I am convinced he is the best person in the country to be chancellor of Vanderbilt. This great university has come so far, so fast, and the principal reason is Nick's enormous intellect, his great vision, and his tireless commitment to Vanderbilt's students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“Nick knows Vanderbilt; he knows our strengths, our traditions and the challenges we face as we seek to continue the momentum that has made this university so special. But more importantly, he has the vision and the demonstrated ability to work across all disciplines to make Vanderbilt a global leader in higher education.”

Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, looks forward to working with Zeppos.

“Nick brings a tremendous amount of insight and experience to this vital role at a crucial and challenging time. He understands the unique position Vanderbilt is in to expand the frontiers of patient care, health education and biomedical research to enhance the lives of people across the world.”

Zeppos, 53, said he was “honored and grateful for the trust that the Board, faculty, students and alumni have placed in me at this critical time in Vanderbilt's history.

“Lydia and I came to Vanderbilt 21 years ago to teach and to learn, to raise a family in a wonderful city and to be part of a great university. We all now share a responsibility to make Vanderbilt live up to its enormous potential.

"A university is the most vital institution in society because it is built on timeless values of truth, knowledge, discovery and healing. Vanderbilt has so much to offer society, and I Iook forward to working with my colleagues on campus, in the community and around the world to continue this university's mission of excellence and service.”

Since 2002, Zeppos has overseen the university's undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs.

As provost and vice chancellor for Academc Affairs, he chaired Vanderbilt's budgeting and capital planning council and led all fundraising and alumni relations efforts across the institution and oversaw the dean of students and dean of admissions.

Zeppos has led a number of important initiatives at Vanderbilt, including the planning process for The Commons, a landmark transformation of the first-year experience; the Strategic Academic Planning Group; innovative efforts in undergraduate admissions and financial aid; and the development of new programs in Jewish studies, law and economics, and genetics, among others.

He also has led the university's Shape the Future fund-raising campaign, which exceeded its $1.25 billion goal two years ahead of schedule and set a new target of $1.75 billion by 2010.

Zeppos joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor in the law school, where he was recognized with five teaching awards. He subsequently served as an associate dean and then as associate provost before being named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2002. From 1982 to 1987, he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

Zeppos was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and is a 1979 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he served as editor in chief of the Wisconsin Law Review and was selected as the outstanding graduate of his class, and a 1976 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he studied history.

He is married to Lydia Ann Howarth, a graduate of the University of Chicago and Lawrence University, who is a writer and editor. They have two sons, Benjamin, 21, and Nicholas, 18.