Reunion 2023: Celebrating Vanderbilt’s best year ever

More than 3,500 alumni and their guests returned to campus for Reunion and Homecoming events Nov. 2–5, capping off a year that—by many measures—stands out as Vanderbilt’s best ever. The weekend featured a robust slate of programming and adds to the activities celebrating the university’s Sesquicentennial year.

Vanderbilt tradition and spirit were buoyed by beautiful fall weather and a return to pre-pandemic scheduling after last year’s triple Reunion that combined events for 2020, 2021 and 2022. This year more than 65 activities greeted alumni and fostered connection in a strong showing of the university’s commitment to radical collaboration. More than $42.7 million was raised to support Vanderbilt and contribute to the university’s historic $3.2 billion Dare to Grow campaign.

In his conversation with alumni, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier highlighted that fiscal year 2023 marked the second year in a row that combined external research funding for Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center exceeded $1 billion, placing it ahead of peer institutions including the University of Chicago, MIT and Northwestern. In addition, 2023 marked the university’s single largest fundraising year to date, with more than $323 million secured.

These financial accomplishments, far from simply being numbers on a ledger, help Vanderbilt move closer to its vision of ensuring that everyone in the university community realizes their full potential—be they student, faculty, staff or alumni—and that a supportive and inspiring community, like Vanderbilt, focused on fostering growth is key to unlocking these successes.

Reunion began early on Thursday afternoon with events focused on career pathways for humanities and theater students. Thursday’s activities culminated with the Downtown Kickoff Party at Nashville’s largest rooftop concert venue as well as a special campus event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni.

The always-popular Commodore Classroom events returned on Friday, covering a range of topics such as the rewriting of history with AI, new dyslexia research and support coming to Vanderbilt thanks to a generous gift from Hal and Marjorie Hollis Roberts, and a panel discussion about the role of music in the athlete and fan experience in big-time college football.

A block party on Alumni Lawn featured Nashville food trucks leading up to Friday night’s class parties. Additional events included the 2023 Vanderbilt Naval ROTC National Security Symposium hosted on campus, various affinity group receptions and school-specific events.

Vanderbilt celebrated the Ingram Scholars Program’s milestone 30th anniversary with a dinner at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday. The celebration brought together alumni of the program and paid tribute to the donors whose generosity has touched the lives of so many Vanderbilt students and alumni.

Other Saturday highlights included the Homecoming Tailgate and a block party hosted by the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center before the Commodores faced off against Auburn. An after-party following the game was sponsored by the AVBA.

Sunday morning drew the celebratory weekend to a close with final reflections from Diermeier on the legacy of the university’s fifth chancellor, Alexander Heard, to an audience of Vanderbilt Quinqs, before their 50th Reunion induction hosted by Diermier. Other alumni said their farewells at the Bluegrass Brunch and Market.

For more about Reunion 2023, visit Learn about the many engagement opportunities available to alumni via the Vanderbilt Alumni Association.