Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos presented the 2015 Chancellor’s Cup to Associate Professor of History Frank Wcislo during a surprise ceremony Nov. 6 in Kirkland Hall, with many of Wcislo’s friends and colleagues from the College of Arts and Science, Department of History, The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and throughout the university in attendance. The Chancellor’s Cup is given annually for “the greatest contribution outside the classroom to undergraduate student-faculty relationships in the recent past.”
“We’re here today to honor you rather than to give you more assignments,” Zeppos told Wcislo jokingly.
“[rquote]Every time the university has said, ‘Frank, could you lead? Could you help? Could you step in to make Vanderbilt better?’ he has,” Zeppos said.[/rquote]
A historian of modern Russia, Eurasia and Europe, Wcislo has been a Vanderbilt faculty member since 1984. His research encompasses the politics, society, economy and culture of the prerevolutionary Russian Empire. He is the author of two highly acclaimed books, Reforming Rural Russia: State, Local Society, and National Politics, 1855-1914 (Princeton, 1990), and Tales of Imperial Russia: The Life and Times of Sergei Witte, 1849-1915 (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Wcislo served as director of undergraduate studies for the Department of History from 1990 to 1994. He was director of the department’s honors program from 1992 to 2001.
“He laid the groundwork for the current honors program, an exceptional program, a selective three-semester program with faculty advisers and a senior thesis requirement,” Zeppos said. “Frank was designing the Vanderbilt immersion experience before our academic strategic planning even began.”
Most recently, Wcislo served as the founding dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, Vanderbilt’s living-learning experience for first-year students. He stepped down from the role in June 2015.
“He started in 2006, before it was even built. The Commons opened in 2008; Frank was there in 2006,” Zeppos recalled. “The development, the implementation, the design—he’s been involved in making that program the preeminent first-year experience of any university in America.”
Wcislo is the recipient of numerous undergraduate teaching and advising honors at Vanderbilt, including the Jeffrey Nordhaus Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Arts and Science (1993), the Alumni Education Award of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association (1998), The Madison Sarratt University Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (2003), and the Alumni Freshman Adviser Award of the College of Arts and Science (2006).
“Frank embodies the very best of the faculty-scholar,” Zeppos said. “He embodies what we talk about today at Vanderbilt: educating the whole person, a living-learning environment outside of the classroom. Frank’s been doing it for the last three decades.”
Established by the Nashville Chapter of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association in 1963, the Chancellor’s Cup is presented by the chapter’s president each fall. The award includes a cash prize of $2,500 contributed by the club, an engraved pewter cup as a permanent trophy, and one year’s custody of the Tiffany and Co. silver bowl that bears the names of all past recipients.