Building a Better Vanderbilt

Faculty-Staff Campaign lets employees give back to areas that interest them most

(John Russell/Vanderbilt)

When Vanderbilt staff member Melissa Wocher was asked to serve as co-chair of this year’s Faculty-Staff Campaign, she was so honored that she immediately said yes.

“I couldn’t turn it down,” said Wocher, assistant to College of Arts and Science Dean Carolyn Dever. “As an alumna, I have been the recipient of past giving to scholarships and other funds. As a longtime employee of the College of Arts and Science, I see daily what even the smallest donations do to help further Vanderbilt’s mission.”

Furthering Vanderbilt’s mission is at the core of the Faculty-Staff Campaign, which Wocher is co-chairing with John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and chair of the department. Wocher and Geer hope to help inspire faculty and staff members across campus to come together to be part of the campaign to build a better Vanderbilt.

Established in the 1970s, the Faculty-Staff Campaign encourages employees to personally invest in the education, service and discovery missions of Vanderbilt. Gifts of any size and to any area of the university—whether to a school or college, the library, athletics or the medical center—count toward the campaign.

This year, the campaign has a goal of raising at least $1.25 million from more than 1,500 participants by June 30. All gifts made to Vanderbilt by faculty and staff from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, count toward the 2013 campaign effort.

“[rquote]The amount of the gift is not what matters. It is the participation in and of itself,” Geer said.[/rquote] “The fact that so many people are willing to give speaks volumes about Vanderbilt. But any time we can get more people involved it makes us an even better place to work.”

Geer and Wocher are quick to recognize that faculty and staff members give of their time and talents every day for the greater good of the university, but they also understand the importance of giving back financially.

“I’m inspired when I see the miracles our doctors and nurses are performing at the medical center or when I talk to brilliant students and hear about the amazing plans they have to change our world,” Wocher said. “Sure, my work is a real contribution, but it is a contribution for which I am paid. I want to give back a portion. I want to be represented in Vanderbilt’s accomplishments.”

Faculty and staff can support a variety of areas to further Vanderbilt’s cutting-edge research, world-class teaching and quality patient care. Each gift is important and allows the university to meet emerging needs and opportunities. Wocher chooses to give to Vanderbilt’s Hardship Fund, which provides emergency funding to colleagues in need, and to the College of Arts and Science. Geer gives to the Department of Political Science and to a scholarship fund. They encourage colleagues to give to the areas that interest them most.

“Any time you give, you make Vanderbilt a better community,” Geer said. “By giving, you are able to feel more connected to the community, and Vanderbilt will be better able to advance its missions of teaching, service and discovery. It’s a win-win situation.”

Gifts through the Faculty-Staff Campaign can be made online, over the phone, via mail or through payroll deduction.


$1.25 million
1,500 participants


June 30

written by Nicole Floyd