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Philanthropic Priorities

Dream Big

As Vanderbilt's largest school, the College of Arts and Science advances learning and discovery by pushing beyond the confines of any one discipline. It is in our DNA to explore issues from diverse perspectives, and ask and answer important questions by bridging the arts and sciences. Over the next decade, we will use our collaborative spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing society, from inequality to health to privacy.

Please join us in making a difference in the lives of our students and faculty and helping us forge real change in our communities, country and world.

Photo of Alyssa Jacobs



On a spring break trip to Nashville, Alyssa Jacobs’ mother suggested a walk around Vanderbilt’s campus. Alyssa’s college decision was made there. “I knew then that this was my school,” she says. “It had great academics, it was the perfect size and everybody I saw just looked happy.”

Alyssa’s acceptance to Vanderbilt was met with excitement, but when she saw the financial aid package, she knew she would be able to follow her dreams without burdening her family or racking up student loan debt. Thanks to the generosity of donors, she can pursue her dream of helping others through a possible career in occupational therapy.

“Now that I’m experiencing Vanderbilt for myself, I truly understand the importance of giving back.”

Points of Pride

eight NUMBER OF STUDENTS who received a coveted Fulbright fellowship in 2017.
DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT 50 MAJORS AND MINORS strengthen our school's culture of collaboration.
ON THE RISE Immersion and study abroad opportunities TRANSFORM OUR STUDENTS’ WORLD.
EIGHT NUMBER OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS U.S. News ranks among the top 35 in the nation, including clinical psychology (#16), political science (#24) and English (#27).

Our Priorities


In 2008, the university launched Opportunity Vanderbilt, a bold initiative designed to eliminate student debt. This expanded aid program replaces need-based student loans with grants and scholarships.

Vanderbilt is among the very few universities in the country—most of which have a significantly larger endowment—to make this commitment of support to its students. To date, generous alumni, parents and other friends have contributed more than $387 million toward this effort, but ongoing support is critical to sustaining Opportunity Vanderbilt. The College of Arts and Science is enriched by a diverse population of students, which is made possible when financial barriers are removed from admission.


If students are the heart of the College of Arts and Science, then the faculty is surely its lifeblood. They inspire, challenge and instill passion in their young scholars.

Holly Tucker brings 17th century Europe to life in her non-fiction works that read like thrillers. Alan Wiseman co-founded the Center for Effective Lawmaking and introduced an innovative tool that allows voters to quickly see how effective their elected officials are in Washington. Suzana Herculano-Houzel has studied the brains of more than 130 species and has debunked much of the conventional wisdom about our most complex organ. Your gifts help the college retain these outstanding and highly sought-after educators, and attract our next great faculty members.


Many universities require a senior thesis or capstone project. But none do it quite like Vanderbilt.

In Immersion Vanderbilt, students undertake an intensive learning experience both in and beyond the classroom that culminates in a final project. By exploring topics they are passionate about, students expand their knowledge and experience, and take advantage of expert faculty and resources from across the entire university. Students may advance our understanding of glaciers in Antarctica, develop an app that could revolutionize the treatment of an infectious disease or write an award-wining short story. When you support Immersion Vanderbilt, you support an innovative approach to education that takes advantage of our strengths as a world-class research university, ultimately helping our students become leaders on the world stage.


Annual gifts provide Vanderbilt the necessary flexibility to quickly seize opportunities and pursue new initiatives. This “everyday support” empowers all Vanderbilt constituents to play an important role in our future. When you invest in the College of Arts and Science by making an annual gift, you provide:

  • Additional scholarship support for students who otherwise may not be able to afford a Vanderbilt education
  • Innovative programs that extend educational growth beyond our boundaries and into the community


Despite a devastating diagnosis of cystic fibrosis when she was 24 months old, Sara Nance, BA’94, lived an enriched life—including four years at Vanderbilt.

One of the highlights of her time here was a summer spent in Aix-en-Provence with the Vanderbilt in France Study Abroad program. Sara died in 1998, and when her parents were thinking of ways to honor her life, they thought of Vanderbilt. They made a commitment to the school and then documented a substantial bequest for the Sara Elizabeth Nance Study Abroad Fund. Planned gifts, including bequests and life income gifts, help you meet your financial and charitable goals while providing support to the College of Arts and Science. These legacies will make a difference for faculty and students for years to come and ultimately help us more accurately plan for the future.

“The College of Arts and Sciences trains the next generation of leaders, scholars and entrepreneurs to solve the world's greatest challenges. Our faculty and students work across disciplinary boundaries tackling big problems from diverse perspectives. We are committed to providing the support they need to make a difference in the lives of people at home and abroad.”

— John Geer, Dean, College of Arts and Science, and Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science

Financial Snapshot

How Arts and Science’s $701 million endowment is used

Chart: How Arts and Science’s $701 million endowment is used

Endowment peer comparison

Chart: Endowment Peer Comparison **These figures are calculated using fiscal year 2017 endowments and fall 2016 full-time equivalent students, as reported by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

For more information about how you can join us in strengthening Arts and Science, please contact (615) 322-8119 or