During the next two years, Vanderbilt will create 60 new endowed faculty chairs, bringing the total number of endowed chairs at the university to 267.
Endowed chairs, the highest honor Vanderbilt can give to a faculty member, help attract and retain distinguished senior scholars. In the academic world they represent the pinnacle of achievement and recognition.
“They are the gold standard for acknowledging faculty achievement and distinction, and are essential to building a world-class faculty,” said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos in making the announcement at the Fall Faculty Assembly on Aug. 26.
Zeppos said Vanderbilt will spend $15 million per year toward recruiting new faculty. Vanderbilt’s financial performance during the economic turndown has resulted in an opportunity to pursue scholarly talent aggressively, he added.
“We must be cautious about our own vulnerabilities, but we should not shrink from the fact that, as other universities struggle, we will be … presented with rare faculty hiring opportunities across all disciplines.”
Vanderbilt is achieving “exceptional” financial results given the economy, Zeppos said. Research funding increased 17 percent to $613 million, and more than $117 million in philanthropic gifts were received in the financial year that ended in June.
In addition to recruiting faculty, spending priorities include maintenance of campus facilities, building up “rainy day” funds, and planning for future capital building projects such as Kissam Quadrangle, two new residential colleges, a new Life Sciences and Engineering Building, and an addition to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
In the face of concerns regarding the national debt, Vanderbilt is pursuing ways to assure continued research funding.
“Almost 82 percent of our research funding comes from the federal budget,” Zeppos said. “There is no way to look at that number without at least a small shudder, knowing that the current trajectory of American debt is not sustainable. Whatever solutions are hammered out, they are sure to affect research funding.”