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Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain led a discussion featuring key updates about FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s land use planning initiative, Oct. 17 at the Student Life Center Board of Trust Room. Approximately 125 members of the Vanderbilt community came together for the town hall meeting, which began with remarks from Zeppos tethering Vanderbilt’s values to future land use decisions.
“What we’re striving for with FutureVU is an engaging, transparent process of shared governance across the institution that helps us come together as a community, determine our values and craft a land use plan that keeps us attuned to those values,” Zeppos said.
The FutureVU team, led by Kopstain, has spent the last two years conversing with faculty, students, staff and alumni about the overall guiding principles and specific needs of the campus population. The team’s goal is to hinge all campus planning efforts and construction projects to these values, which include diversity and inclusion, sustainability and a strong connection to Nashville.
Current projects include the new E. Bronson Ingram College and school expansions along 21st Avenue. Later this semester, the 20- to 30-year vision for the development of Vanderbilt’s campus will be released on the FutureVU website.
“A lot of people have asked me, ‘What is a campus land use plan? What does that mean?’ To me, it’s a blueprint for the development of the campus in support of our shared goals as a community—whether that be in academics, research, teaching or innovation,” Kopstain said.
The town hall focused upon three burgeoning themes of the campus land use plan: accessibility, transportation and mobility, and sustainability. A question-and-answer session occurred at the end of the presentation.
To help aid in the development of effective accessibility and inclusion strategies, a new task force was formed earlier this semester that includes faculty, students and staff from across the campus. Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Officer Mike Perez shared about the initial steps the task force has taken to address this area of discussion. A video displaying a detailed data collection project led by students this summer also was presented.
“We are reaching out to partners throughout campus that can help guide accessibility efforts, and this task force helps us identify the initial barriers that we can address,” Perez said.
Zeppos stressed that Vanderbilt must work to generate norms that foster an inclusive community.
“It’s a fundamental right that everyone who is invited to be part of our community is included equally and fully in the participation of everything at the university,” Zeppos said.
Mobility and transportation
Both Kopstain and Zeppos noted that parking spaces currently occupy 82 acres of Vanderbilt’s 335-acre campus, which is close to 25 percent of all land use. Key tenets of FutureVU that consider this current makeup were shared. The initiative emphasizes the walkable nature and unique aesthetic character of Vanderbilt’s campus.
We have to be the innovative engine on these topics, not a follower,” Zeppos said. “Our land is precious, and we’re not going anywhere.
“[rquote]We have to be the innovative engine on these topics, not a follower,” Zeppos said. “Our land is precious, and we’re not going anywhere.”[/rquote]
The FutureVU team is developing a comprehensive mobility and transportation strategy, in part derived from the recommendations of six transportation working groups involving more than 90 faculty, students and staff. The Wond’ry, as well as Vanderbilt Student Government have been key partners in this process.
Alongside the dozens of groups and offices dedicated to a sustainable campus environment, Vanderbilt is also conducting several comprehensive operational studies to further aid in the development of solutions that may result in a significant reduction in the university’s environmental impact. These studies include a large-scale renewable energy study and a “BlueSky Energy Vision” study.
A goal of FutureVU is to create a framework for sustainability and environmental stewardship throughout the campus. A new section of the FutureVU website has been launched to address this topic.