Zeppos shares vision for new Vanderbilt football stadium

This is not a chicken-and-egg scenario.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos believes the school needs a new football stadium, one with modern amenities and appeal. He also expects the football program, about to begin its second year under coach Derek Mason, to be better.

In this case, one definitely will come first.

“I tend to view things in kind of a sequential way to get the program and the facilities right,” Zeppos said in a lengthy appearance on 94.9 FM (The Game2) Wednesday morning. “And the first thing for me always is, ‘What is the fan experience on the field and in the stands?’

“So we’ve got to get right what is happening on that field.”

After three straight bowl appearances and back-to-back nine-win seasons under James Franklin, the Commodores slipped to 3-9 in 2014, Mason’s first season.

Presumably, therefore, whatever momentum there was for a new facility on West End has stalled somewhat. The idea of a new stadium remains very much alive, though, in the mind of the No. 1 man on campus.

“We’ve talked a lot about facilities, in particular the football facility, and I think that process continues,” Zeppos said. “I’d say it’s a very dynamic environment in terms of stadiums. When we start talking about, ‘What is the Vanderbilt football stadium of the future’ we really start thinking of the fan experience. I hate to say it, but a lot of kids want to watch six games when they’re at that game. And they want to be wired. They want to be able to experience a lot of different things.

“… It’s almost like a sports bar sort of environment that most of the fans want.”

To that end, he added that bigger is not necessarily the answer. Vanderbilt Stadium, with a capacity of 40,550, easily is the smallest in the SEC. The next smallest, at Ole Miss, can accommodate an additional 20,000-plus fans.

It’s more important, Zeppos contended, that the appeal of the place extends beyond the facility and into the surrounding area on campus and adjacent neighborhoods, all of which can be accomplished where the current stadium stands.

“I think it’s going to be more intimate, entertainment-driven and more multi-media that really focuses on the fan experience and then, particularly the way Nashville is going, building entertainment and excitement around that venue,” he said. “We just need a whole stadium-neighborhood buzz and vibrancy. That’s kind of how we’re conceiving it now.

“You can actually do some pretty exciting things on that footprint without disrupting things too much. There might be a year where we’d have to play somewhere else but I think that would be a low price to pay for a new facility.”

He did not offer any estimate of what it all might cost in actual dollars.

(Photo: Vanderbilt athletics)

Jul 29, 2015 2:24 PM

Vanderbilt pays $5.25M for historic religious building

University to use facility for office space
Jul 21, 2015 1:07 PM

VU survey results: Civil service reform needed

One third of federal executives feel the U.S. government workforce lacks necessary skills and that underperforming employees can rarely be dismissed, according to a Vanderbilt University study. 

Results of the survey, which asked executives a various questions about skills, training, recruitment, aspirational goals and future career plans, prompted VU researchers to call for changes in the government service career sector.

“It’s time to do civil service reform,” David E. Lewis (pictured), William R. Kenan Jr. professor of political science and lead researcher on the Survey on the Future of Government Service, said in a press release. “I worry that it will be done in piecemeal fashion in response to a crisis rather than the right way, which is to develop a modern-day human resources system for a modern government.”

Here are some of the survey’s key findings:

* Seventy percent of federal executives report that underperforming non-managers are rarely or never reassigned or dismissed, and 64 percent of federal executives report that underperforming managers are rarely or never reassigned or dismissed;

* Only 68 percent of federal executives and 45 percent of those who are political appointees believe they have received sufficient training and guidance on how to hire, promote, reward, discipline and dismiss employees in the career civil service;

* Thirty-nine percent of federal executives agree or strongly agree that an inadequately skilled workforce is a significant obstacle to their agency fulfilling its core mission. Forty-five percent disagree or strongly disagree;

* Fifty-one percent of federal executive said the skills of the workforce in their agency had gotten better or much better during their tenure, while 19 percent said skills had gotten worse or much worse. The rest said the skills were the same.

* Forty-two percent of federal executives agree or strongly agree that they are unable to recruit the best employees. Thirty-seven percent disagree or strongly disagree;

* Twenty-four percent of career executives and 35 percent of political executives say it is likely or very likely they will leave their agency in the next 12 months.

Lewis and Vanderbilt political science Ph.D. candidate Mark D. Richardson sent out 14,698 surveys to federal executives last year, after the executives received a letter from former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker endorsing the survey. Granted confidentiality, 3,551 federal executives (a response rate of 24 percent) responded.

Jul 17, 2015 1:08 PM

Vanderbilt lands $10M grant for autism training

Five-year funding provides educational services to schools
Jun 18, 2015 7:00 AM

BU, VU rank among nation's 'most beautiful urban campuses'

Best Choice Schools has ranked both Belmont and Vanderbilt universities among the nation's Top 20 urban campuses for beauty.

BU (the law school building at which is pictured here) ranks No. 10, while VU ranks 16th. Memphis-based Rhodes University (No. 27) is the only other Tennessee school on the list.

Criteria for the ranking involved schools being located in cities with populations of 100,000 or more. Specific campus elements included prior national and international accolades, student enjoyment, notable features, historical significance and environmental friendliness.

“We take great pride in creating and maintaining a campus that is both visually appealing and environmentally sustainable," Belmont President Bob Fisher said in a release. "Not only do these gorgeous surroundings provide our students, faculty and staff a beautiful place to study, work and play, but they also show prospective families that you can have it all — a great education and a stunning campus right in the middle of a fantastic city.”

Of note, most of the universities on the list are private. Read more here.


Jun 15, 2015 1:13 PM

Vanderbilt teams with UnitedLex for legal residency program

Vanderbilt Law School is launching a legal residency program through a partnership between the school's Program on Law and Innovation and global legal firm UnintedLex.

Through the program, which will be similar to a medical residency, graduates will work full-time for two years providing legal services in areas such as cyber security, contract management, patent litigation and intellectual property management.

"UnitedLex is a forward-thinking company founded by Daniel Reed, a Vanderbilt Law graduated and UnitedLex CEO, and I'm tremendously excited bout the opportunity this residency program affords our graduates to learn to deploy legal technology and resources," Chris Guthrie, dean and law professor at Vanderbilt Law School. "I expect this to become a key feature of our Program on Law and Innovation."

Vanderbilt is the fourth school to have residency program with UnitedLex. The firm also has affiliations with the University of Miami, Emory University and Ohio State. Ten Vanderbilt graduates are expected to join the program at first, and some will continue on the UnitedLex staff after completing the residency.

May 28, 2015 1:50 PM

Vanderbilt names surgery department chair

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has named Dr. Seth Karp chair of Vanderbilt's Department of Surgery.

A professor of surgery and Ingram Professor of Surgical Sciences, Karp  succeeds Dr. Naji Abumrad, who has served as chair for more than a decade. Abumrad is stepping down to focus on research and mentoring roles.

Karp's appointment is effective July 1. He joined Vanderbilt in 2011 and is currently director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Karp served as assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"Under his leadership, we have experienced significant growth in solid organ transplantation rates and outstanding outcomes," Dr. Daniel Beauchamp, chair of the section of surgical sciences, said in a release.

Karp earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard and his medical degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Apr 20, 2015 7:00 AM

EO adds to VU student-athlete internship program

After a first year in which 28 Vanderbilt football players landed internships at Entrepreneurs Organization Nashville companies, the group is aiming to nearly double the program and bring in student-athletes from other sports. Kelley Boothe has more info at Southern/alpha.

Apr 17, 2015 8:47 AM

Cox Enterprises EVP joins VU Board of Trust

Addition is great grandson of three-time Ohio governor, 1920 presidential nominee
Apr 17, 2015 7:02 AM

VU names Ingram Commons dean

Vanderbilt University officials have named Vanessa Beasley dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons program, its 10-house campus-within-a-campus for freshmen. Beasley came to VU in 2007 to work in the Department of Communication Studies and was director of the Program for Career Development for faculty in the College of Arts and Science from 2008 to 2012. Check out the university's news release here.

Mar 26, 2015 2:17 PM