Derek Bruff has been appointed assistant provost and named interim director of the Digital Commons, a new faculty development initiative from the Office of the Provost launching in the fall of 2021. Located in 1101 19th Avenue alongside the new Faculty Commons, the Digital Commons will offer programs and services to help Vanderbilt faculty learn the skills they need to use digital technologies in their research and teaching.
The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Office of Faculty Affairs will jointly oversee the Digital Commons during its first year of operation. “Derek has experience managing staff and facilities as well as expertise in digital tools and positive working relationships with faculty,” said Tracey George, vice provost for faculty affairs. “His leadership will help the Digital Commons further the education and discovery efforts of our faculty.”
Bruff will continue to lead the Center for Teaching as executive director. “Through my work at the CFT since 2011, I’ve been helping faculty make intentional choices about using technology in their teaching,” Bruff said. “Now I have the chance to extend that work into faculty research and scholarship.”
The Digital Commons will make use of its new space by hosting workshops and panels aimed at helping faculty decide which digital tools might be useful in their teaching and research, as well as trainings and working groups to support faculty in learning to use particular tools and platforms. The Digital Commons also will feature two labs—a digital media lab staffed by the Center for Teaching, and a digital imaging lab staffed by the Vanderbilt Libraries.
The Digital Commons brings together a few units with a faculty-development focus. Groups with a presence in the 1101 building include: the Center for Teaching, the Vanderbilt Libraries and the College of Arts and Science’s Center for Digital Humanities. Funding for the Digital Commons comes from the Libraries’ budget, and Bruff anticipates hiring new staff for the Digital Commons, including an assistant director, a digital media specialist and a digital imaging specialist. This initial investment of resources will help launch the Digital Commons and its programming. Faculty response to that programming will inform future Digital Commons directions and resources.
As assistant provost, Bruff also will plan and oversee other faculty development and educational initiatives for the Office of the Provost, consult with campus leaders about related topics, and conduct outreach to Vanderbilt faculty and staff on behalf of the Office of the Provost.