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Vanderbilt’s Volunteer Leadership Week drives collaboration and support

by Mar. 5, 2021, 8:30 AM

Each spring, Vanderbilt hosts a gathering of the university’s most engaged volunteer leaders for a special weekend of activities designed to foster collaboration in support of Vanderbilt’s mission and momentum. This year all events were held virtually during Volunteer Leadership Week—an extended slate of programming presented Feb. 22–26.

More than 500 people participated, including volunteer leaders such as Reunion 2020 General Chairs Karen (BS’80) and Bill (BA’80) Fesmire, and Reunion 2021 General Chairs Suzanne Perot McGee (BS’86) and Patrick K. McGee (BS’85), who are leading the charge for this year’s combined Reunion celebrating 20 classes.

Several groups gathered virtually to identify ways to strengthen support for Vanderbilt students, including the Alumni Association Board, Association for Vanderbilt Black Alumni G.O.L.D. Council, Ingram Scholars Program Alumni Board, Parents Leadership Committee, Vanderbilt LGBTQI Alumni Group, Vanderbilt Association of Hispanic and Latinx Alumni, as well as alumni chapter leaders, class agents and many more.

Volunteer leadership opportunities

Members of the Vanderbilt University community who are interested in learning more about volunteer leadership opportunities may contact engage@vanderbilt.edu. Alumni are also encouraged to visit vuconnect.com.

Kickoff event with Chancellor Daniel Diermeier Feb. 22

Volunteer Leadership Week kicked off with a special event on Feb. 22 featuring Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. Vanderbilt Student Government President Veer Shah and Vice President Shun Ahmed began the session with messages of gratitude to volunteer leaders.

“Whether you’ve provided mentoring, internship or job opportunities—or gifts to support scholarships or the Student Hardship Fund—we have been moved by your generosity and commitment to our well-being and success,” Shah said.

Ahmed also shared a special video from fellow students expressing their heartfelt thanks. She then introduced Bruce R. Evans, BE’81, chairman of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, who emphasized the essential role volunteers play in supporting Vanderbilt.

“I want you to know that through your involvement you’ve helped to make this year successful for our students and faculty,” Evans said. “I’m really proud of what’s been accomplished and how our students have soldiered on in these challenging times.”

Diermeier shared a campus update and praised volunteer leaders for the immense impact they have made on the university in the last year—including supporting the Student Hardship Fund and Opportunity Vanderbilt, championing regional engagement by serving as chapter leaders, working in the Commodore Recruitment Program, joining Reunion committees and providing job opportunities. He called on volunteers to continue to strengthen their connection to Vanderbilt in a meaningful way.

“During the last year, our community has stepped up. Our staff, our faculty, our students all stepped up together as One Vanderbilt in a spirit of collaboration and discovery to make possible what we accomplished during the last year,” Diermeier said. “There will be many challenges ahead, and we’ll tackle them with confidence and conviction. We will do it in a way that reflects the values of this great university.”

Keynote address by head football coach Clark Lea

The week’s keynote event on Feb. 25 featured Vanderbilt head football coach Clark Lea, BA’04, MA’07, who was introduced by Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee.

“Our requirements for a new head coach were ambitious and demanding—not only did we require a transformational leader dedicated to supporting student-athletes on and off the field, but we wanted an inspirational program-builder,” Lee said. “Someone with the vision, the drive and the commitment to compete and to win at the highest level. Clark Lea embodies these characteristics and so much more.”

Lea discussed his Vanderbilt roots, his motivation for accepting the position and his holistic approach for the program.

“We’re not just looking to produce great football players,” Lea said. “We want to produce men who are ready to go out in society and do great things and represent Vanderbilt University in everything that they do.”

He also stressed his commitment to student-athletes and providing them with opportunities for success.

“We want a program that reflects the excellence of the university,” Lea said. “We want a Vanderbilt football player to feel like he has every resource that he needs to develop into an NFL player here.”

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