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Aug. 21, 2017, 4:01 PM
I am heartened by the return of each of you to campus as we begin the 2017-2018 academic year. This year’s start will be forever linked to today’s remarkable total eclipse of the sun. As we tracked the eclipse across our nation on its way to Nashville, I was struck once again by how fortunate each one of us is to be in this exact place, at this exact time, together.
We rejoin at a time when the value and importance of our diverse and civil community are more urgent than ever. We continue to feel the reverberations of the hatred, racism, bigotry and violence that shook the city of Charlottesville earlier this month, driven by divisive ideologies of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, homophobia and nativism. We reject and condemn the actions and rhetoric of those intent on dividing us. We commit ourselves as a university each day, just as we must as individuals, to live and model our values of inclusion, civility, non-violence, free speech and reason, which distinguish our academic community.
As you begin this year, I encourage each of you to stand up and stand together in support of these values, and to actively seek out opportunities to engage more deeply and thoroughly. Vanderbilt is a place where all are welcome, celebrated and safe and where each person has the power to elevate the whole.
We have remarkable momentum in truly every area of campus—world-class faculty, path-breaking research, innovative undergraduate and graduate education, and talented staff. It is our imperative to use these many opportunities to forge solutions and understanding that will move us as a community, and ultimately as a society, forward.
Thank you for your many contributions to our great university. I look forward to sharing an extraordinary year with you.
Nicholas S. Zeppos
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