Message from Chancellor Zeppos on finalization of VU-VUMC transition

Dear Vanderbilt Community,

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

Today we complete the work begun in November 2014 to ensure the future vibrancy and excellence of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. April 30 will mark the first day that VUMC will operate as a fully independent, nonprofit entity.

This is a remarkable moment in Vanderbilt’s history, and one that I believe will be marked as a time when Vanderbilt made a strategic and prescient decision that positioned both the University and the Medical Center for dramatic and sustained success.

Since Vanderbilt’s founding in 1873, we have time and again adapted and made investments always looking forward to address both opportunities and challenges. Over time our constancy of purpose resulted in the creation of the law and business schools, the merger with Peabody, and the addition of the Blair School of Music, and more recently it has been the guiding force of such transformative efforts as The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, residential colleges, trans-institutional initiatives and Opportunity Vanderbilt. With the creation of an independent VUMC, we are once more evolving in support of our commitment to serve humanity through our noble mission.

Importantly, this restructuring has positioned both the University and the Medical Center for even greater strength in the complex environments of higher education and health care.

Medical centers and universities operate under dramatically different sets of considerations and constraints. As a result of the restructuring, the University will have the ability to invest in its programs, spaces and human capital with focus and energy. As an independent entity, VUMC now has the flexibility to make investments, and to take risks, that will ensure that it thrives and grows in today’s rapidly changing health care marketplace. The University and VUMC will continue our extensive collaborations, which enrich research, teaching and scholarship and strengthen both entities exponentially.

This transition has required strategic planning and forethought, and it could not have happened without the leadership and support of so many individuals. From the beginning, our Board of Trust had the vision—and the courage—to direct me and the senior leadership team to explore and ultimately execute the restructuring of the relationship the Medical Center and the University share. I thank our board members for their wisdom and their support every step of the way along this journey.

I am grateful for the partnership of Dr. Jeff Balser, dean of the School of Medicine and president and CEO of VUMC. Jeff’s vision, as well as his exceptionally capable leadership, has positioned VUMC to be a national leader for the future of academic medicine and patient care.

I am also grateful for the outstanding leadership of Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente, whose deep understanding of our academic and research enterprises and exemplary work implementing the Academic Strategic Plan ensure our medical and nursing education and research in the basic sciences will continue to flourish, along with our long-standing culture of collaboration across our 330-acre campus.

Such momentous change could have had the potential to distract or deter us from our goals; instead, we have moved forward with ever-increasing determination and clarity. For this, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Vanderbilt’s team of vice chancellors, other University leaders, faculty and staff, who devoted their expertise and time over the past 17 months to prepare both institutions for this day. I deeply appreciate their thoughtful, thorough and responsible efforts.

Our past leaders had the foresight to vigorously preserve and protect our close physical campus, where 10 diverse colleges and schools and a world-class medical center exist just a short walk from one another, and where students and scholars interact to explore new possibilities, new avenues for exploration, and new relationships that forever change our understanding of our world.

I look forward to the continued collaboration, creativity and discovery that we share as we enter this new era.

Nicholas S. Zeppos