Vanderbilt expands investments in staff; search for inaugural vice chancellor for people, culture and belonging underway

Vanderbilt University is doubling down on its investments in its staff with the launch of an international search for a new vice chancellor for people, culture and belonging, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier announced today. This expanded role will bring together key operational activities that impact the staff experience, including hiring, staff development, equal opportunity and access, health and wellness programs and belonging initiatives.   

“Staff are part of the lifeblood of our institution, so we are making significant investments to support staff members’ professional growth and build a strong, collaborative workplace culture. We are committed to attracting and retaining the highest-caliber staff and providing them with the resources to set them up for success and help them reach their full potential,” Diermeier said.  

Some recent investments in staff have included the addition of fall and spring staff assemblies, expanded benefit options, and progress on the Future of Work initiative. 

“The Staff Experience Survey conducted in April shows that staff across the institution are highly satisfied with the work they do, their collaboration with colleagues and their interactions with their supervisors,” Diermeier said. “Those results, coupled with the work of the Future of Work committees and other employee-focused initiatives, has laid the groundwork for us to make even more progress on creating an environment where our staff can thrive.” 

Several work units will transition from the Division of Administration and report to the new vice chancellor for people, culture and belonging, who will be responsible for driving staff talent recruitment, professional development and community building. These work units include Human Resources, Equal Access, Payroll and Employee Records, and the Office of Health and Wellness.  

“This new structure considers feedback we received from staff through the Future of Work initiative and demonstrates the magnitude of our commitment to enhancing and improving the staff experience and attracting and retaining talented individuals,” said Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor for administration. “I look forward to supporting this important transition.”   

The executive search firm Korn Ferry will conduct the search for the new vice chancellor. 

New leadership roles to focus on student, faculty experience 

To further strengthen the culture of belonging among Vanderbilt’s students and faculty and enhance their experience, the Office of the Provost will expand to align operational efforts and programming, facilitate collaboration and ensure support for students and faculty. 

Vanderbilt’s identity centers will move under the leadership of Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students G.L. Black to better align with other campus resources and initiatives that support the student experience and promote students’ academic success, well-being and personal and professional development. A new associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion will lead Student Affairs’ strategic approach as well as all operational and programmatic efforts related to equity, diversity and inclusion for students. The associate dean also will be a key liaison to numerous campus partners, including the Office of Undergraduate Education, the graduate and professional schools, Faculty Affairs, Human Resources and more. 

In addition, the Office of the Provost’s Faculty Affairs team will add a new position and expand another. A new senior director of faculty advancement, diversity and belonging will lead institutional efforts and strategic initiatives to support faculty advancement processes and promote equity, diversity and inclusion throughout each stage of the faculty lifecycle. The senior director also will collaborate with and serve as a resource for a wide range of constituencies to provide a thriving and collegial community for all current and future faculty. The new position will report to Associate Provost for Faculty Development Duane Watson, whose portfolio will expand to include additional strategic leadership responsibilities and oversight of new programming, initiatives and other development efforts related to faculty recruitment, retention and professional growth.  

“Instilling a deep sense of belonging is a core value at Vanderbilt, and we are committed to pursuing new and innovative approaches and investing resources to strengthen belonging for everyone at the university,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver said. “I look forward to collaborating with students and colleagues to advance and support identity, diversity, belonging and inquiry.”