A pair of Nashville’s most influential civic leaders engage in a conversation about the dynamic city and its innovative citizenry in the 10th episode of The Zeppos Report.
Nashville mayor and Vanderbilt alumna Megan Barry sat down with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos to discuss Nashville and Vanderbilt’s shared values—and the consistent, prominent role equity, diversity and inclusion hold among them.
“We’re a diverse city, and you see that in the student body you have here at Vanderbilt and you see it reflected across our great city,” Barry said. “Diversity just gets you on the team; inclusion actually gets you in the starting lineup.”
In the podcast, Zeppos and Barry discuss the recent stand she took against what she calls the “so-called Nashville Statement.” Zeppos applauds her stand in support of the LGBT community and her continued efforts to create and maintain an inclusive, welcoming community.
“You are the mayor of this city that’s doing remarkably well because of those values,” Zeppos said. “I certainly stand by that as well.”
Both leaders also express their commitment to increasing access to experiences that develop life skills and encourage creative thought. A new city initiative, Opportunity NOW, created more than 11,800 paid jobs and internships for Nashville’s youth this past summer, while Vanderbilt continues its commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for any student offered admission through Opportunity Vanderbilt.
“Places like Vanderbilt and Nashville will continue to be those beacons to welcome people,” Barry said.
Nashville’s creativity and Vanderbilt’s central role within it emerges as a consistent refrain throughout the interview. Barry describes Nashville as a “makerspace” and highlights Vanderbilt as a globally focused university existing in the city’s urban core. Specifically, Barry expresses gratitude about Vanderbilt’s position of leadership in efforts to increase public transportation across the city and metropolitan area.
Zeppos notes that Vanderbilt and Nashville’s relationship is symbiotic. “We happen to be a great, private research university, but we grow out of the soil,” Zeppos said.