Dear members of the Vanderbilt community,
We have reached the end of a historic semester at Vanderbilt and are nearing the end of what has been a year of unprecedented challenges around the world. As we recognize this milestone together, it is my honor to share the tremendous sense of pride and gratitude I have felt as your chancellor.
In my letter to the Vanderbilt community on the first day of fall classes, I wrote, “Years from now, we will look back at this moment. We can either remember it as a time when our mission and common purpose were eclipsed by short-sightedness, or we can remember it as a time when we dug more deeply and worked harder than ever before to continue exploring new and transformative modes of thought.” Your actions this semester have demonstrated that we will accomplish the latter and have given me hope for our continued success this spring.
We asked you to Anchor Down and Step Up. You did that and more. Our students found uniquely creative ways to engage with one another academically and socially—from locations near and far—to create the empowering educational experience that we hold dear as an institution. They expressed gratitude for faculty and staff, who also went to great lengths to ensure our collective well-being and modeled compassion and leadership in the Nashville community. Each of you helped to change the face of how we learn, teach, think, cure, govern, build, manage, create and nourish the human spirit. You demonstrated what is possible when one community is united by a common purpose and committed to a common goal.
At Vanderbilt, we believe in the fundamental power of human potential to create a positive impact on society—and this purpose leads us to approach the spring semester with continued optimism. We do so with the sobering weight of the staggering toll that COVID-19 has exacted on human life and society foremost in our minds. This is especially important as we look back on 2020 while approaching the spring semester as infections continue to rise. I know I can count on you to remain committed to our shared goal, encouraging and supporting one another throughout the remainder of this academic year.
In the meantime, I look forward to welcoming you back in January and seeing you again on campus and on Zoom. It has been my distinct honor to serve as your new chancellor this year, and I am grateful for all that you do to make Vanderbilt exceptional.
I hope you are enjoying a relaxing winter break, and I wish you a peaceful holiday season and a happy new year.