Vanderbilt works to expand global engagement; Sharpley-Whiting named to new vice provost role

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting
(Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University will expand its presence, reputation and impact around the globe with the appointment of a new vice provost for global engagement, who will lead efforts to bring the world to Vanderbilt and bring Vanderbilt to the world.

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, who holds the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, has been named to the role and will direct the new Office of Global Engagement. In addition, the university is conducting an international search for a director of global engagements and external partnerships, who will report to Sharpley-Whiting.

These developments are in response to the recommendations of the Global Strategy Committee, which was appointed by Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver in January 2023 as part of a campus-wide effort to grow the university’s reputation and collaboration worldwide. The committee, made up of 15 faculty members and three ex officio members, met throughout the spring before issuing its report in June.

“Vanderbilt’s global connections and collaborations are essential to our mission,” Diermeier said. “I want to thank the members of the Global Strategy Committee for their extremely thoughtful work in developing this comprehensive strategy, which will guide our efforts to advance Vanderbilt scholarship and its global impact, broaden and deepen our international collaborations, enhance opportunities for students to participate in international learning and boost our recruitment of top global talent.”

The Global Strategy Committee identified three main themes for its recommendations:

  • Establish the Office of Global Engagement, to be led by a vice provost for global engagement
  • Educate more members of the global community about Vanderbilt and Nashville by bringing them to campus for research and learning experiences
  • Send more Vanderbilt faculty and students into global settings to conduct research and share their findings, inspire through the arts and learn in diverse cultural settings

“Tracy Sharpley-Whiting’s esteemed scholarship and global recognition make her a great fit to lead our global engagement efforts,” Raver said. “Her new role as vice provost for global engagement builds on her existing work. I appreciate her vision and the Global Strategy Committee’s efforts. I’m excited to implement their recommendations for our students and scholars.”

Sharpley-Whiting, professor of African American and diaspora studies and professor of French, will continue to serve as vice provost for arts and libraries, a position she’s held since July 2022. She also directs the Callie House Research Center for the Study of Global Black Cultures and Politics.

She has published 16 books and numerous articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed global publications spanning Europe, Latin America, and Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Her work has been translated into multiple languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Finnish, Korean and Spanish. Her 2015 book, Bricktop’s Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars, was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and longlisted for the American Library in Paris Book Award. In addition, the book’s film rights have been optioned by William Morris Endeavor.

Sharpley-Whiting also serves on numerous international editorial and scholarly boards, including the cross-cultural Musée Franco-Américain du Château de Blérancourt and the Sussex Centre for American Studies (U.K.), as well as the Groupe D’ACHAC (Association Connaissance de l’histoire de l’Afrique contemporaine). She has organized international colloquia with the American Embassy in Paris and the Sorbonne, and she is serving as a judge for the 2023 National Book Award for literary and literary nonfiction in translation.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to lead the Office of the Provost’s strategy for global engagement,” Sharpley-Whiting said. “Building on my existing relationships and deep experience within the international academic community, I plan to bring energy, ideas, collaboration and innovative practices to this role.”

Among her responsibilities, Sharpley-Whiting will assume oversight of Vanderbilt’s Global Scholars in Residence program, provide direction and executive sponsorship for high-profile faculty cross-school international conferences hosted at the university, and serve as the point of contact for the Office of the Chancellor on large-scale high-profile global initiatives.

Sharpley-Whiting will be aided in these efforts by the new director of global engagements and external partnerships. This hire will play a pivotal role in the Office of the Provost as the coordinator of internal stakeholders and global and local partners as they craft mutually beneficial collaborations. The director of global engagements and external partnerships will advise, assist and advance various aspects of the university’s global and other external engagement strategies, as well as foster and maintain relationships with global institutions, industry partners and relevant donors.

Vanderbilt’s global engagement strategy builds on a number of efforts underway across the university. The Global Scholars in Residence program provides financial support to faculty who want to host a visiting scholar or group of scholars from non-U.S. institutions of higher learning or nonprofits devoted to education or research. Vanderbilt welcomed its first cohort of scholars last spring and a second cohort this fall, including London-based artist Glory Samjolly in October.

The first three international undergraduate students to visit Vanderbilt through the Davis United World Scholars Program began studying on campus as part of this year’s incoming class. The program provides international scholarships and education for academically talented students from around the world.

The Clinton Global Initiative University brought more than 700 students from 92 nations to Vanderbilt’s campus during the spring of 2023. And more than half of Vanderbilt undergraduates—500 to 600 every year—take advantage of some 150 study abroad programs in more than 40 countries.

To learn more about global initiatives at Vanderbilt, visit

Global Strategy Committee members

  • Duco Jansen, co-chair; senior associate dean for graduate education and faculty affairs, professor of biomedical engineering, School of Engineering
  • Tiffiny A. Tung, co-chair; vice provost for undergraduate education; Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Social and Natural Sciences, professor of anthropology, College of Arts and Science
  • Hiba Baroud, Littlejohn Dean’s Faculty Fellow, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, School of Engineering
  • Celso Castilho, associate professor of history, director of Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies, College of Arts and Science
  • Walter Chazin, Chancellor’s Chair in Medicine, professor of biochemistry and chemistry, College of Arts and Science
  • Kate Clouse, associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing
  • Xiu Cravens, associate dean for international students and affairs, professor of the practice of leadership, policy and organizations, Peabody College
  • Ji Hye Jung, associate professor of percussion, Blair School of Music
  • Mumin Kurtulus, associate professor of operations management, Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Dave Michelson, associate professor of the history of Christianity, Divinity School
  • Bunmi Olatunji, associate provost for graduate education; Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Psychology, College of Arts and Science
  • Jessica Oster, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, College of Arts and Science
  • Vesna Pavlovic, professor of art, College of Arts and Science
  • Ed Rubin, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Political Science, Law School
  • Kevin Stack, Lee S. and Charles A. Speir Professor and professor of law, Law School
  • Tracey George (ex officio), vice provost for faculty affairs; Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Chair in Law and Liberty, Law School; professor of political science, College of Arts and Science
  • Tracy Sharpley-Whiting (ex officio), vice provost of arts and libraries; Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Humanities, College of Arts and Science
  • Elizabeth J. Zechmeister (ex officio), associate provost for research and innovation; Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science, College of Arts and Science