Dear Arts & Science community,
Campus has been abuzz with commentary on the presidential elections. At the most recent meeting of the dean’s undergraduate advisory committee, I invited students to share their thoughts. Many described their experiences on campus in the days after the election, and their stories led to a moving discussion of the role of the university in the nation’s politics.
Some students expressed hope that universities, including Vanderbilt, take more explicit stands on issues such as climate change and immigration. Others noted the value of a reputation for objectivity when it comes to disseminating research findings about controversial topics. Everyone remarked on the importance of the university as a place of academic freedom and tolerance.
Jason Thome, a senior from Fort Thomas, Kentucky, sought to summarize the group’s views. An important premise, he said, is that “hate speech has no place on our campus,” and he stated that the university should “continue welcoming and supporting our international students,” who add so much to all aspects of university life. Finally, he noted that it is essential “to maintain our trust in empirically determined, evidence-based truths.”
I came away from that discussion, and from many other conversations in recent weeks, deeply impressed by our students and appreciative of their deep devotion to the university’s complex mission. As Chancellor Zeppos wrote in his November 28 letter
to the Vanderbilt community, the university aims “to provide an academic environment that is inquisitive, diverse, rigorous, free, inclusive, and safe for all who seek education and discovery.”
The university’s mission is also the mission of the college, which remains committed to advancing learning, research and the free exchange of ideas. As dean, I pledge to help ensure that all members of our community are treated equally and with respect, whatever their political views or religious affiliations may be and regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identities.
More than ever, the last few weeks have made me proud to be in higher education, and at Vanderbilt University.
With best wishes,
Dean, College of Arts and Science
Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History
A&S in the News
Vanity Fair: Saluting a new guard of STEM stars Jedidah Isler, a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in Vanderbilt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Vanderbilt alumna Kimberly Bryant
, founder of the nonprofit organization Black Girls Code, are both profiled in this feature about notable and diverse role models in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
U.S. News & World Report: For public health, is alcohol the next tobacco? The U.S. Surgeon General’s office has issued the agency’s first-ever report on addiction, which includes proposals for restricting alcohol access that critics say go too far and could end up targeting usage among even casual drinkers.
Christopher Carpenter, professor of economics, law, public policy and education, and health policy, is quoted.
PBS NewsHour: Column: Trump Tower, the skyscraper and the future of urban development
Could Trump Tower stimulate more creative, sustainable approaches to urban development? In this essay originally published by The Conversation, Kevin D. Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, suggests that the president-elect is at least bringing attention to the urban tower as a residential building type. And some architects and urbanists believe that the skyscraper offers one important solution to climate issues. The column also was reprinted in
WUOT radio in Knoxville, Tennessee, interviewed Scott Aikin, assistant professor of philosophy, about how to handle conflicts related to current events with family during the holidays.