Chancellor’s Cup awarded to Arts and Science’s Gilbert Gonzales and Owen Graduate School of Management’s Michael Lapré

Professors Michael Lapre and Gilbert Gonzales with the Chancellors Cup

Gilbert Gonzales, associate professor of medicine, health and society, and Michael A. Lapré, associate professor of operations management, have been awarded the 2023–24 Chancellor’s Cup by Chancellor Daniel Diermeier for their remarkable teaching and mentorship of undergraduate students.

Diermeier presented Gonzales with the award during a surprise visit to his class during spring semester, and Lapré was given the accolade in a faculty and staff meeting at the Owen Graduate School of Management.

“Chancellor’s Cup recipients demonstrate extraordinary dedication to students and exemplify Vanderbilt’s deep commitment to helping students at all levels map their life paths,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “Gilbert and Michael have made a difference in the lives of many Vanderbilt graduates, and it is my honor to congratulate them on their outstanding work.”

Established by the Nashville Vanderbilt Club in 1963, the Chancellor’s Cup is awarded for the greatest contribution outside the classroom to undergraduate student-faculty relationships in the recent past. The faculty member’s contribution is one of educational importance, relevant to the central purpose of the university.

Gonzales: A professor and a mentor

Surprise awarding of the Chancellor’s Cup to Gilbert Gonzales at the start of his class in Buttrick 344. (Vanderbilt University)

Gonzales never imagined he’d become a professor. But a graduate school mentor encouraged him to apply for a faculty position, and he soon found that he deeply enjoyed the work and the impact he had on students’ lives. “A lot of our students come in as pre-med, and they think, ‘I’m going to go to medical school.’ But those plans can fall through,” Gonzales said. “I think what has kept me enjoying teaching has been trying to help them navigate that moment by asking, ‘What else can we do? Is it public health? Is it health care administration? What other opportunities are out there?’”

It’s that same spirit of mentorship—inside and outside of the classroom—that helped earn Gonzales the nomination for this year’s Chancellor’s Cup. Along with apprenticing several undergraduate students into his research program, he co-authored several papers with them, including nine of his 12 publications in 2022.

Gonzales is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, inviting students to celebrate, connect with, and study the experiences of LGBTQ+ Americans by helping his undergraduate students and Nashville organizations connect through research-based outreach.

His students cite his concern for their mental health and well-being. “Mental health is something that is important to me,” Gonzales said. “A lot of our students have anxiety, depression or are living with mental health conditions. I can walk into a room and immediately tell that stress levels are up, so I plan and work with [my students] to prioritize their health. Without that, you can’t learn.”

Lapré: His students’ biggest fan

Chancellor’s Cup presentation to Michael Lapre at the start of the Owen faculty and staff meeting. (Vanderbilt University)

Lapré began teaching undergraduate in Boston in 1997, but in 2001, he took what he thought would be a brief detour to join Vanderbilt as a professor for the MBA program. “At the time, Vanderbilt didn’t have any presence in the undergraduate [business] space,” Lapré said. “So, we launched the undergraduate business minor in the fall of 2017, and I thought, ‘Okay, this is it. I can finally teach undergrads again.’ I developed the managing operations course for the business minor, introduced it in 2017, and have been teaching it every year since. I’m as happy as a clam.”

Lapré is an avid sports fan. From soccer to F1 racing, he’s fascinated by the principles and strategies that make for successful (or unsuccessful) competitors. He’s married that passion with his love of research and invited students to join him in that work—bringing on 15 teaching assistants and research assistants from his undergraduate classes. Together, Lapré and his research assistants have produced four peer-reviewed journal publications and a conference proceedings paper that look at how real-world sports decisions and outcomes can be applied to business.

Lapré’s office at Owen is a testament to his avid support of Vanderbilt women’s soccer: Photos with graduating team members, game schedules, and a woven scarf emblazoned with “Vanderbilt Soccer” are a few of the mementos that hint at his steadfast attendance at home and nearby away games. When asked about faculty who positively impacted their Vanderbilt experience, soccer student-athletes specifically mentioned Lapré, including a former student who now plays professionally for the National Women’s Soccer League.

Gonzales and Lapre expressed gratitude for the award, which includes a cash prize and an engraved pewter cup as a permanent trophy. They also share one year’s custody of the Tiffany and Co. silver bowl that bears the names of past Chancellor’s Cup recipients.

Professors Michael Lapre and Gilbert Gonzales with the Chancellors Cup. (Harrison McClary/Vanderbilt University)