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Zeppos, Williams named to new positions in Vanderbilt reorganization

Jan. 14, 2002, 2:42 PM

January 14, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pledging “simplicity, clarity, agility and accountability” in Vanderbilt University’s senior leadership, Chancellor Gordon Gee today announced a reorganization and two key appointments in the areas of academic affairs and student life.

Nicholas Zeppos, a legal scholar who has served for the past year as vice chancellor for institutional planning and advancement, has been named to the newly created position of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. He succeeds Thomas G. Burish, who is returning to the faculty after 10 years as provost.

Meanwhile, David Williams, the University’s general counsel and secretary and interim vice chancellor for student life, has been named vice chancellor for student life and university affairs, also a new position.

“Nick Zeppos and David Williams share the characteristics that are most important to Vanderbilt at this point in our history: great intelligence and creativity, boundless energy and enthusiasm, and a zealous commitment to excellence,” said Gee.

The reorganization and new appointments come after extensive consultations with faculty, students, staff and alumni in which several common themes emerged, Gee said, notably a “united passion and ambition for excellence.”

“The Vanderbilt of the future is a university that is intensely focused on scholarly excellence and innovation, a unique and intimate student experience, and service to the community and the world,” said Gee. “But turning the plans into reality will require a streamlined, energetic structure that brings simplicity, clarity, agility and accountability to our efforts.”

As the chief academic and advancement officer, Zeppos will oversee Vanderbilt’s academic activities and planning, as well as the forthcoming capital campaign, and “will ensure that development and alumni efforts are inextricably linked to our mission,” Gee said. Zeppos will also chair the Integrated Financial Planning (IFP) Council, which was established last year to bring a comprehensive approach to the University’s budget process and ensure that academic priorities drive funding decisions.

“We must have a process and structure to ensure a straight line from our academic goals, as developed by the faculty and deans, to the allocation and growth of our resources,” Gee added. “In short, a seamless integration of mission and resources.”

Zeppos joined the Vanderbilt Law School faculty in 1987. He has served as associate dean of the Law School and subsequently associate provost for academic affairs. In his current role, Zeppos has spearheaded a number of important academic initiatives, including the residential college planning process, the strategic academic planning group, innovative efforts in undergraduate admissions and financial aid, and the development of new programs in Jewish Studies, as well as leading planning for the campaign.

Zeppos’ appointment will be effective following a transition period this semester.

Williams will lead the Division of Student Life, as well as the University’s legal affairs and Office of the Board of Trust. His appointment is effective immediately. He, too, will continue his teaching and research as professor of law. Over the past year, Williams directed the creation of a new student affairs office as part of the University’s renewal of student life. In addition to a comprehensive restructuring of student services, housing and activities, Williams has streamlined the University’s student judicial system and addressed longstanding concerns about Greek life on campus.

Williams came to Vanderbilt in 2000 as vice chancellor, general counsel and secretary. He previously served as vice president for student affairs and professor of law at Ohio State University.

Contact: Michael Schoenfeld, (615) 343-1790