Two highly respected Vanderbilt faculty members, known for their academic leadership and impactful research, are taking on new roles to advance undergraduate education, scholarship and creative expression at the university, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver announced today. Tiffiny Tung, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Social and Natural Sciences, will become vice provost for undergraduate education, and Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities and professor of African American and diaspora studies and French, will serve as vice provost for arts and libraries.
The vice provost roles, both effective July 1, 2022, will take over the responsibilities held by Vanessa Beasley, who will step down as vice provost for academic affairs and dean of residential faculty on June 30 to become the next president of Trinity University in San Antonio.
“I am thrilled to welcome Tiffiny and Tracy to our exceptional team of vice provosts, and to leverage their expertise to catapult Vanderbilt’s undergraduate education, arts engagement and other key pursuits to even greater heights,” Raver said. “Their appointments mark an exciting next step as we empower our students to take intellectual risks and to think deeply across multiple areas of scholarly inquiry and policy debate.”
Tung will continue to engage in robust grant-funded research and immersion mentoring but will step down as chair of the Department of Anthropology and associate provost for doctoral programs.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredibly bright, creative and hardworking undergrads,” Tung said. “The enthusiasm they show for learning how to think like a scholar and conduct original research is a highlight of being a professor at Vanderbilt and greatly shaped my desire to accept this position as vice provost for undergraduate education.”
Tung said she also will advocate for substantive support for faculty, so they have the time, resources and institutional structures to advise and mentor undergraduates in meaningful immersion projects and other research opportunities.
“I look forward to working with the faculty to create and support robust research collaborations with students and ensure that faculty have the support they need to support our students,” she said. “After nearly two decades of working in higher education, I know that students who have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty gain a deeper understanding of the meaningful work of a research university like Vanderbilt. Our students learn to see the faculty not only as their teachers, but also as creators of new knowledge.”
LEADERSHIP IN THE ARTS
Sharpley-Whiting is taking on a newly created vice provost position to advance the university’s vision for an expanded role in the arts. She will oversee the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, Fine Arts Gallery, the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University Press, where she was chair of the editorial committee.
“This position is a first in the institution’s history. As such, I think it speaks to a collective desire to make the arts and libraries more visible at Vanderbilt and beyond with strategic local, national and global partnerships,” Sharpley-Whiting said.
In partnership with the provost’s office, Sharpley-Whiting recently led an external academic program review of the university’s visual and performing arts areas. Following the review, Raver created the vice provost for arts and libraries position. The decision follows best practices of other top-tier institutions, such as Duke University, Harvard University and Stanford University, which all have senior leadership positions in the arts.
“We’re a world-class institution in a city brimming with creatives,” Sharpley-Whiting said. “I’d like to better capitalize on those strengths.”
The noted scholar will step down as associate provost and chair of African American and Diaspora Studies, but will continue to engage in active research, including her work studying artists and arts of the African diaspora and her work with archives.