Dear Arts and Science community,
In the summer of 2006, Rani Banjarian became a witness to history. Simmering tensions in Lebanon led the region to boil over into the July War. Fearful every day for his family’s safety— his physician father went into bombed neighborhoods to treat patients—the 13-year-old boy recorded searing memories that month that changed him profoundly.
Fast forward 10 years, and you’ll find Rani ready to graduate from the College of Arts and Science. He chose Vanderbilt sight unseen, yet he found himself immediately at home when he arrived. Rani double-majored in physics and creative writing, and within a few weeks he joined the award-winning Melodores a cappella group. During the past four years, the group’s performances have taken him across the nation and even to the White House.
Rani has also immersed himself in writing. His short story “Lullabies in Arabic” won Dell Magazines’s $500 award for undergraduate excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing. He traveled to Florida this spring to give a reading at the Conference on the Fantastic, capping off a great four years as a Commodore. “The combination of rigorous academics and a vibrant student life was exactly what I was seeking,” he said. “I now understand what liberal arts is about—it’s allowed me to expand my
Expanding horizons is what the College of Arts and Science strives to do. Rani will be walking across the stage at Commencement next week, one of many seniors who have used their four years to explore, take intellectual risks, and pursue their passions. I know you will join me in cheering them on, and in joyful anticipation of what the next steps on their journeys will bring.
Dean, College of Arts and Science
Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Chair in History
VU poet, alumnus awarded Guggenheims
Beth Bachmann, a writer-in-residence in English, is among 178 scholars, artists and scientists in the United States and Canada to be awarded a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
John Douglas Powers, BA’01, the recipient of the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award in 2001 as a senior, was also
awarded a Guggenheim. His sculptures, installations, animation and video works have been exhibited nationally and internationally. He is an assistant professor of sculpture at the University of Tennessee.
Psychologist Logan elected to AAAS
Centennial Professor of Psychology Gordon D. Logan has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in membership with some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers and artists as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.
A&S in the news
Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities Colin Dayan has been so affected by dogs that she even questions which came first: her commitment to faith, or her love of dogs. Read Religion Dispatches’ review of her book With Dogs at the Edge of Life.
Huffington Post cited research by Larry Bartels, the May Werthan Shayne Professor of Public Policy and Social Science, on what rich people—the top one-tenth of 1 percent—want.
Experts in the College of Arts and Science continue to be cited in stories about the presidential race. The Associated Press quoted Marc Hetherington, professor of political science, in a story about how voters are embracing Donald Trump for speaking out on unpopular topics. The
International Business Times quotes Vanessa Beasley, associate professor of communication studies and political science, on how Hillary Clinton can woo Bernie Sanders supporters and moderate Republican women. Research on gender bias at the ballot box by Cecelia Mo, assistant professor of political science, is referenced in an opinion piece on