Vanderbilt and its community partners offer luncheon learning opportunities

Conversational lectures from thought-provoking professors and entertaining performance-related presentations – all accompanied with delicious boxed lunches – continue for the 2007-08 school year, thanks to Vanderbilt University’s thriving community partnerships.

Inside Out of the Lunch Box, Vanderbilt’s partnership with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, resumes after a summer break on Sept. 20 with a panel discussion and excerpts from Tennessee Repertory Theater’s performance of The Crucible. Panelists are René Copeland, producing director of The Rep, and Helmut Smith, professor of history and director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt.

Meanwhile, Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box, the university’s partnership with the Nashville Public Library, is underway, while a special SoBro Sessions, co-sponsored by Vanderbilt and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, is scheduled in late November.

“Vanderbilt first launched the lecture series at the downtown public library in 2002 as a way to extend the university’s resources into the community,” said Christine Bradley, assistant vice chancellor for Community, Neighborhood and Government Relations. “We are grateful for the tremendous community response. Now our newest partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is another great way to bring Vanderbilt and its experts to interested groups downtown.”

Justine Gregory, director of education and public programming at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said that they are excited about their new partnership with Vanderbilt.

“The SoBro Sessions programs provide both institutions with opportunities to share our resources and expertise, and to reach out to new audiences. And, as with all of our public programming, they allow us to expand on the stories we tell in the exhibit galleries, bringing them to life in an educational and entertaining way.”

SoBro Sessions will feature David “Fathead” Newman, the longtime star tenor saxophonist with the original Ray Charles Band, in late November at the Ford Theater. He will also teach master classes at the Blair School of Music and perform with the Blair Big Band and Nashville Jazz Orchestra at Ingram Hall on Dec. 1.

Upcoming Inside Out of the Lunch Box events include an October presentation about the José Limón Dance Company, part of this year’s Great Performances at Vanderbilt. The focus for November will be the Nashville Opera’s Elmer Gantry. In January, the discussion and performances excerpts will be from the Nashville Ballet’s Octet, Trois Gnossiennes, Orpheus, Rite of Spring. The February event is San Jose Taiko. This will be followed by The Pa’s Fiddle Project: Re-Voicing the Music in the Little House Books with Dale Cockrell, professor of musicology at the Blair School of Music. All Inside Out of the Lunch Box events will be in one of TPAC’s theaters.

“Our partnership with Vanderbilt University is TPAC’s greatest success story in terms of community outreach,” said Roberta Ciuffo, executive vice president for institutional advancement. “The lunch-hour programs consistently fill to capacity, providing rich and rewarding experiences for the artists, experts and patrons. The series increases understanding and appreciation of the performing arts, along with current events, world cultures and history. It’s a fun and lively hour of education – a perfect complement to goals shared by both Vanderbilt and TPAC.”

At the downtown library, future Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box talks include “Intellectuals in Public Life” with Robert Barsky, director of French Canadian and Quèbec Studies, in October. Colin Dyan, the Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities, will discuss “The Story of ‘Cruel and Unusual'” in November. Then in December Keivan Stassun, assistant professor of astronomy, addresses “A Star is Born (but how was it made?).”

“Every year Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box continues to be one of the library’s most successful events in terms of attendance and enthusiasm, judging by our repeat customers for these talks,” said Donna Nicely, director of the Nashville Public Library.

Each library talk is moderated by David Wood, Centennial Professor of Philosophy and founder of the series. “In Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box, the Ivory Tower comes down to the market square,” Wood said. “Through these conversations, some of the liveliest Vanderbilt professors can discuss their work with the Nashville public.”

Reservations are required for all the Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box, Inside Out of the Lunch Box and SoBro Sessions events. Please call 615-322-8585. To learn more about these programs, view and click on Lunch Box Series.

Media Contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS

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