Vanderbilt Magazine

The Best Is Yet to Come: With a vibrant 150-year history to build upon, Vanderbilt is poised for further greatness

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

Wherever in the world you may be at this moment, I am thrilled to welcome you to this special issue of Vanderbilt Magazine. In celebration of Vanderbilt’s Sesquicentennial, these pages are part of a story that’s 150 years in the making. It begins in 1873—a pivotal time in our nation’s history—when our visionary founders teamed up to build a great university in a war-torn city in Tennessee. In 2023, the story continues with Vanderbilt today and looks toward our global future together.

We are on the brink of a new era for Vanderbilt. With a mission dedicated to the lifelong realization of human potential, our university is, by definition, primed for what is yet to come. Today, amid a plethora of challenges facing higher education at large, we are called to consider what is required for universities to remain vital within our society. In my feature essay, “Made for This Moment,” I describe how Vanderbilt uniquely has what it takes to play a leading role in defining the great university of the 21st century and to help solve humanity’s most pressing problems in the process.

As with all the great things we do at Vanderbilt, this vision will be achieved through radical collaboration. In our sesquicentennial year, we are excited to launch our ambitious Dare to Grow philanthropic campaign, through which your contributions will help blaze the bold pathways that will lead us through our next 150 years. This issue’s interview with the campaign co-chairs—Steven Madden, BS’91, and Mark Mays, BA’85—will introduce the campaign and explain how to get involved.

Throughout the year, we will celebrate the extraordinary legacy left by the many trailblazing individuals and movements that have influenced Vanderbilt’s history … and changed the world. This issue provides a glimpse into the inspiring stories of a few of these pioneering figures—from founder Cornelius Vanderbilt to today’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee. You also will find stories about interesting artifacts and memorabilia from our shared past, in addition to the regularly featured news of current undertakings by our exceptional alumni, faculty, students and staff.

Finally, I hope you will enjoy the photographs from the launch of our Sesquicentennial in March. If you were unable to attend the celebration, please join us at one of the many events coming up throughout the year, including at our 2023 Reunion. We will be eager to welcome you back, as always, and particularly at this special milestone for our university.

It has been an incredible century and a half at Vanderbilt University—and it is an exciting time to be here, right now. In the story that we’re writing together, the best part is yet to come.

Crescere aude. Forward, ever.