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CAS - Ampersand E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

November 2015

Dean Lauren BentonDear members of the Arts and Science community:

Events of the past week around the world have shocked and saddened us, touching every member of the Arts and Science community. Closer to home, Vanderbilt has joined campuses across the nation in having wide-ranging discussion of diversity and academic freedom. These developments remind us in different ways of the importance of tolerance – to society and to our community.

I join Chancellor Zeppos and Provost Wente in affirming that the College of Arts and Science, like all of Vanderbilt University, is committed to diversity, inclusion and freedom from discrimination. (You can read the chancellor’s statement here and the provost’s statement here .) To preserve Vanderbilt as a great research university and a leader in creating new knowledge, we must ensure that members of our community can learn, teach, discover and speak with full academic freedom. We must also strive to preserve an environment that is safe, tolerant and welcoming for all members of the Vanderbilt community.

Some students have contacted me in recent weeks with questions and concerns. I want to hear their views and learn more about their experiences. Beginning in early December, I will hold monthly Talk with the Dean sessions. These open discussions will provide an opportunity for students to express their views and to engage in dialogue about issues and topics that matter to all of us.

The first hourlong meeting will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, in 103 Wilson Hall. At the beginning of the spring semester, we will announce a schedule for monthly meetings to continue in 2016.

With best wishes for peaceful and productive final weeks of the semester,

Dean Benton Signature

Laurie Benton
Dean, College of Arts and Science


Dig In

Campus digArts and Science students are unearthing Vanderbilt’s earliest history in an archaeological dig on campus. Students in Associate Professor of Anthropology Steve Wernke’s archaeology course learn how to excavate while uncovering artifacts from some of the university’s first residents.

Arts and Science in the Media

Eel with preyPolitical Science’s Cecilia Mo discussed why Asian Americans don’t vote Republican in The Conversation , Huffington Post, New Republic and Fortune. Anand Taneja, assistant professor of religious studies, talked to The New York Times about a castle where people write to djinns (genies) for wish fulfillment. Biological Sciences’ Ken Catania’s new research into the secrets of electric eels captured global media attention, including Scientific American, Forbes and UPI.

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George C. Hill

New diversity officer

George C. Hill has been named Vanderbilt's first chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Alumnus Steve Buchanan

Entertainment maker

How did sociology major Steve Buchanan, BS’80, MBA’85, end up producing a hit TV show, major motion picture and great experiences for music fans?

David McCauley

Mourning two professors emeriti

English professor and Milton scholar Leonard Nathanson died Oct. 27 and biologist, researcher and mentor David McCauley (above) died Oct. 30.

Larisa DeSantis

ADA champion

Larisa DeSantis, assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences, took part in 25th anniversary celebrations for the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a 9-year-old with epilepsy, she lobbied President George H. Bush for the bill.

Jedidah Isler

Astrophysics + Yale

Who was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Yale? Postdoctoral astronomy fellow Jedidah Isler, who graduated from the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge program. Watch her TED talk.


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Ampersand  |  Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science
301 Kirkland Hall  |  Nashville, TN 37240

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