Words and advice from emeriti faculty

33 Vanderbilt faculty honored with the title of Emeriti faculty on May 8.


Eva Durchholz

This bronze statue stands outside Kirkland Hall. On May 8, Vanderbilt announced emeriti faculty.

Hunter Baxter, Staff Writer

On May 8, Vanderbilt announced they are honoring 33 faculty in 2020 by bestowing them with the title of emeritus or emerita faculty. 

The faculty members are:

  • Daniel H. Ashmead, professor emeritus of hearing and speech sciences
  • Prodyot (P.K.) Basu, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering
  • Margaret M. Blair, professor emerita of law and Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise
  • Darryl J. Bornhop, professor emeritus of chemistry
  • Thomas F. Cleveland, professor emeritus of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery
  • Bruce K. Cooil, Dean Samuel B. and Evelyn R. Richmond Professor Emeritus of Management
  • Jeffrey M. Davidson, professor emeritus of pathology, microbiology and immunology
  • Emmanuele DiBenedetto, Centennial Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
  • Tom D. Dillehay, Rebecca Webb Wilson Chair and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Religion and Culture
  • Mark E. Frisse, professor emeritus of biomedical informatics
  • Vivien G. Fryd, professor emerita of history of art
  • Marie R. Griffin, professor emerita of health policy
  • Barbara Hahn, Max Kade Foundation Chair and professor emerita of German studies
  • Andes Hess Jr., professor emeritus of chemistry
  • Richard L. Hoover, professor emeritus of pathology, microbiology and immunology
  • Mark F. Jarman, Centennial Professor Emeritus of English
  • Robert T. Jiménez, professor emeritus of education
  • John Kochanowski, associate professor emeritus of viola
  • Michael H. Kurek, associate professor emeritus of composition
  • Patrick J. M. Lavin, professor emeritus of neurology
  • James E. Loyd, professor emeritus of medicine
  • Ralph N. McKenzie, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
  • Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor Emerita of Religion, Psychology and Culture
  • Arthur Overholser, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering and chemical engineering
  • James A. Patton, professor emeritus of radiology and radiological sciences
  • James W. Pichert, professor emeritus of medical education and administration
  • Donald H. Rubin, professor emeritus of medicine
  • Linda J. Sealy, associate professor emerita of molecular physiology and biophysics
  • William J. Stone, professor emeritus of medicine
  • Mark W. Wait, dean emeritus of the Blair School of Music and Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair
  • Tedra A. Walden, professor emerita of psychology
  • Thomas J. Weiler, professor emeritus of physics
  • Bahr H. Weiss, professor emeritus of psychology

The press release states that for faculty to receive emeritus status, they must serve the university with distinction for many years, retain their faculty status until retirement and be recommended by their respective dean and chancellor. Once these conditions are met, they are eligible to be awarded the title “emeritus” (for male professors) or “emerita” (for female professors) by the Board of Trust.

The Hustler sat down with three of these emeriti faculty to hear reasons for retirement, change in their responsibilities and advice for Vanderbilt students. 

The interviewed faculty stated that COVID-19 was not responsible for their decision to retire. Instead, they attributed age and the intent to pursue other passions as the reason for retirement.

“I feel that perhaps it is time for younger faculty members to take over the reins and also to create openings to hire a new faculty member,” Prodyot (P.K.) Basu, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering said.

The new title of emeriti faculty comes with different responsibilities. In particular, emeriti faculty no longer have the compulsory responsibility to teach courses, Robert T. Jiménez, professor emeritus of education said. 

“My understanding is that I no longer will be called on for the types of services that faculty typically engage in, like reviewing other faculty writing, promotion reports, sitting on hiring committees and supervising or accepting new doctoral students,” Jiménez said.

For Margaret M. Blair, professor emerita of law and Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise status offers her a chance to delve into new areas of research. Blair typically conducted research in the fields of corporate law and corporate governance, but she is now shifting her attention to other fields. 

“I have an interest in studying things about uneven housing issues in our country, and that is just not at all related to the research I have done,” Blair said.

When asked for advice, Basu suggested students should find a place to study by themselves, if possible, and to be laser focused.

The best place to start is finding things that really excite you and just read about them, talk about them with other people, find information, look for videos on the topic and become an expert on the things you find the most intriguing,” Jiménez said, “the things that do not have simple and easy answers.”

Blair echoed Jiménez’s concern that students make the best use of their time in quarantine

“You don’t need to spend all of your time looking at memes,” Blair said “There are so many more interesting things. Try to keep that love of learning going.”