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CAS - Ampersand E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

August 2015

Dean Lauren BentonDear Arts and Science community:

I arrived at Vanderbilt on July 1 with great excitement, eager to begin my work as dean of the College of Arts and Science. The days since have flown by as we prepare for the return of students in a few short weeks.

I feel a special affinity with our first-year students. Like them, I’m starting a new, exhilarating chapter in my life; like them, I’m honored and thrilled to be joining a diverse and vibrant community at one of the world’s great universities.

In the days ahead, I want to engage that community—alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students—in building on our existing strengths and exploring new initiatives in learning, teaching, research and creative expression. Together we will forge an even more dynamic College of Arts and Science.

One of the reasons I was drawn to Vanderbilt is its reputation for collegiality, world-class research and exceptional students. Already in the short time I have been here, I have seen those traits illustrated. This special edition of Ampersand contains links to just a few representative endeavors and accomplishments.

During the academic year, you will hear from me monthly through this newsletter. I would like our conversation to be interactive, so I welcome your comments. The links at the bottom of the newsletter make communication easy.

I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming months.


Lauren Benton

Dean, College of Arts and Science
Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Chair in History


Jay ClaytonTIPS off and running

The inaugural set of Vanderbilt’s new Trans-Institutional Programs features 14 out of 17 initiatives involving Arts and Science faculty. TIPs are designed to leverage, support and innovate cross-campus strengths. In one, Curb Center Director Jay Clayton (pictured) joins colleagues from Blair, Engineering, Peabody and the School of Medicine in the science of music research. They're working with more than three dozen Vanderbilt researchers interested in music-related discovery. "Vanderbilt has created a unique collaboration," Clayton says, "one that will give us unprecedented insights into the power of music in people's lives."


Kevin MurphyA&S in the news

NPR, MSNBC and Sputnik featured A&S faculty in stories on race issues and the recent Charleston church shooting. Research from a trans-institutional effort by math and physics shows how the universe could end, and History of Art professor Kevin Murphy (above) weighed in on baseball stadiums and the consequences of demolishing buildings.


Ad for AS gear

Ralph Webb running

Football down under
Sociology major and Commodore running back Ralph Webb left football behind for a summer mind-blowing study-abroad trip.

Alumna Amy Chowdhry

Hall of Fame
Amy Buckner Chowdhry, BA’95, is one of three successful alumni and former student media leaders named to the Vanderbilt Student Media Hall of Fame.


Pluto redeemed?
Astronomy professor David Weintraub, author of Is Pluto a Planet? may have to update his popular book. Examining the images of Pluto sent back by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, Weintraub says, “Pluto is a cold mystery waiting to be solved.”

Book cover Trompe l'oeil

Rare raves
It was a momentous summer for Associate Professor of English Nancy Reisman. The New York Times praised her second novel, Trompe L'Oeil, and Reisman and her husband, Rick Hilles, poet and fellow A&S English associate professor, spent a month in Colorado as Aspen Words' writers-in-residence.


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