A Message to the Community

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos

Dear members of our Vanderbilt community,

For the past 11 years, I’ve had the honor of serving as the eighth chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Staying true to our mission of teaching, discovery and service has guided my efforts, and with help from a world class faculty, an extraordinary staff, the best alumni network anywhere, an incredible student body, and a wonderful Board of Trust, we’ve worked hard to make the past decade one of exceptional progress on many fronts.

I’m writing today to let you know of my decision to leave the position of chancellor on August 15, 2019, and after a sabbatical year return full time to the faculty. I truly love Vanderbilt and serving you has been a privilege. Yet my health is presenting challenges that demand my focus, with the love and support of my family.

Passing the torch of leadership of this great university from one chancellor to another is never easy but it is inevitable, and I do so with complete confidence that the ninth chancellor will take full advantage of the strong foundation that has been built and chart a path to further greatness with you.

By all measures—admissions, graduation rates, philanthropic support, the exceptional strength of our faculty, our diversity, and financial health—our work together has produced an extraordinary university. These successes have been built upon our core values of access to a Vanderbilt education, civility, research and inquiry of the highest order, and inclusive excellence. Our mission and values must guide us. Chancellors come and go, but our future is bright when we all find the joy and excitement of furthering that mission and staying true to our commitments and values.

I wanted to reach out to as many people in our university community as quickly as possible because we all know how fast news travels, so please forgive me if this news arrives before I get a chance to personally talk with you.

There are amazing opportunities that await Vanderbilt. But we also live in a time when challenges abound. We must come together, as “One Vanderbilt,” to seize those opportunities and face directly the challenges ahead. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Chancellor. It has been a great run. I take tremendous comfort in the knowledge that the university’s greatest days are ahead of us.


Nicholas S. Zeppos