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Vanderbilt University statement on Executive Order – Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency and Accountability at Colleges and Universities

Mar. 21, 2019, 3:40 PM

“Free inquiry and academic freedom are foundational values at Vanderbilt. Without the right to openly pursue ideas and share them with others, we stifle the primary role of America’s leading research universities, which is to teach, discover, cure and innovate—a role which has been essential to our nation’s progress, prosperity and security for more than 200 years. Key to this free exchange of ideas is bringing people from a wide array of backgrounds and interests together to nurture an equitable and inclusive culture that fosters dialogue.

“We have serious concerns about the false perceptions regarding free expression fueling the executive order. Freedom of expression is alive and well at Vanderbilt, and at research universities across the country. Weaponizing research dollars for political purposes – dollars used to develop vaccines, treatments and innovations that change people’s lives – is misguided and jeopardizes the historic and robust partnership between America’s research universities and the federal government.

“We recognize that students and families across the country are increasingly shouldering more debt to make their education dreams a reality. That is why we launched Opportunity Vanderbilt in 2008 to meet all demonstrated financial need for all undergraduate students with scholarships and grants and no loans. Because of Opportunity Vanderbilt, a large number of our graduates can pursue careers that fit their passions without worrying about paying back student loan debt. Our admissions process is need-blind, so we do not assess ability to pay while reviewing and accepting applicants. Since Opportunity Vanderbilt began, we have provided more than $1.2 billion in financial aid supporting 10,000 students. This approach has been crucial to further our continuing goal of building a class of exceptionally talented students from diverse backgrounds who come to Vanderbilt to live together and learn from both our incredible faculty and one another.”

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