WATCH: Diermeier discusses ‘State of the University’ in livestreamed address, Q&A

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier called on all Vanderbilt alumni and current parents to be ambassadors for the university during a virtual “State of the University” address on May 24. During the livestreamed event, Diermeier also participated in a Q&A session moderated by Tim Warnock, BA’84, president of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association Board. 

In his address, Diermeier offered an overview of where Vanderbilt is two years after the start of the pandemic and highlighted the university’s distinguished faculty, diverse student body and robust research programs.   

“At Vanderbilt, we never stop learning and evolving because we believe continual growth is more valuable than any one achievement,” Diermeier said. “We believe that potential—in people, and in universities—is realized over time, in both small steps and great leaps. And the amazing thing about potential is that it knows no limits. It expands as we grow. The more we dare to do, the more we are able to do.” 

He also emphasized the importance of principled neutrality on campus and outlined the key components of the Vanderbilt Way—belonging, self-direction, continual growth and radical collaboration. 

“Our commitment to free expression is based on two principles,” Diermeier said. “Our first principle, which we call open forum, is based on creating an environment where our students and faculty can explore the most complex and challenging issues while treating each other with respect. Our second principle is the pillar of principled neutrality, which means we exercise principled restraint as it relates to commenting on issues of the day that don’t directly affect the university.” 

The Q&A that followed the remarks covered a range of topics, including student mental health, Vanderbilt’s international strategy and the future of higher education. Questions were pre-submitted and taken live.  

The State of the University event follows other addresses Diermeier has given to the university throughout the spring, including his remarks at his investiture, Spring Faculty Assembly, Spring Staff Assembly and his farewell address to the Class of 2022 at Commencement.