2020 virtual Spring Faculty Assembly website launched

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente reflects on the university’s continued momentum, highlights faculty achievements and thanks the Vanderbilt community for its resilience during a turbulent semester—on the virtual Spring Faculty Assembly website.

Visit the page at vanderbi.lt/springfacultyassembly.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 Spring Faculty Assembly was canceled to protect the health and safety of the community.

The Office of the Chancellor partnered with the Faculty Senate and the Division of Communications to launch a website where Wente thanks Vanderbilt faculty for their extraordinary efforts to shift to online learning as well as key progress from throughout the academic year—in a letter as well as on video—messages that she had originally planned to deliver in person April 2 at Spring Faculty Assembly.

“All of us have pulled together to do what Vanderbilt does best: collaborate, find solutions and move forward,” Wente said. “The cooperation of our faculty is an especially distinguishing feature of our culture and gives us a strong and invaluable foundation for responding effectively and decisively in this moment of adversity. Again, thank you for making our continued success possible.”

Wente notes that while the university must continue a strong focus on the urgent matters surrounding its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is also more important than ever to look back on the institution’s overall progress since the start of the academic year.

The website includes a detailed reflection on 2019-20, with the acknowledgment that the dominant memory for most faculty will be the university’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Just during March 2020, faculty transitioned all courses to online and alternative learning platforms with support from the Office for Faculty Affairs, the Center for Teaching, VUIT, the Faculty Senate and others.

Faculty have also used their expertise and materials to support Vanderbilt University Medical Center and others in the fight against COVID-19. In addition, Vanderbilt experts are featured in media that include The New York Times, CNN and Wall Street Journal in COVID-19 stories.

The “Virtual Spring Faculty Assembly” is organized by seven broad categories of achievement over the past year: Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Global Engagement, Elevating the Arts and Humanities, A More Inclusive Vanderbilt, Progress with FutureVU, Listening and Feedback, and Trust, Transparency and Teamwork.

“I am committed, and know you will all join me, in continuing to look out for one another during the weeks ahead,” Wente said at the close of her message. “We are dedicated and united in our efforts to move our university, nation and world forward—together.”

The website also has a message from Faculty Senate Chair John McLean, in which he notes that the Faculty Senate’s theme for the academic year has been community and civility. “On one hand, this theme applies to our relationships with our fellow faculty,” McLean said. “But it also reflects our broader engagement with the Vanderbilt community, from the Board of Trust to the staff members we work with every day.”

McLean also is thankful for Wente’s service to the university.

“Her integrity and perseverance continue to move our institution forward—in all of her roles—even as we navigate a generation-defining global pandemic, and the many impacts on all of our lives,” McLean said. “In thinking about this past year, it is evident that Interim Chancellor Wente always put Vanderbilt first, and I know she will continue to do so.”