Diermeier heads search committee for Vanderbilt’s new provost

An internal committee aided by a global consulting firm is working to find a replacement for Provost and Vice Chancellor Susan R. Wente.

Photo+of+Kirkland+Hall.

Hunter Long

Photo of Kirkland Hall. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Charlotte Mauger, Deputy News Editor

Following the Jan. 31 announcement that Provost and Vice Chancellor Susan R. Wente will be leaving Vanderbilt on June 30 to serve as the president of Wake Forest, a search committee was appointed to find her replacement. 

The committee is led by Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and is made up of Board of Trust leadership, deans, faculty members from all of Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges and senior administrators, all appointed by Diermeier. Given its international scope, Spencer Stuart, a global executive search and leadership consulting firm, will also offer assistance in the search. 

“The search will be a wide-ranging, international search, and is already underway. We are deeply committed to creating a diverse, inclusive environment where everyone can reach their greatest potential, and our search process will reflect those values,” Diermeier said in a Feb. 15 email to The Hustler.

The role of the provost, per Diermeier, is to “lead all aspects of Vanderbilt’s academic mission.” This entails overseeing the faculty, staff and programming for all ten schools and colleges as well as leading student affairs, housing, admissions and financial aid. Diermeier laid out the qualities the committee is looking for in such a leader. 

“We’re looking for a leader who can hit the ground running during this unprecedented time for our community and for higher education,” Diermeier said. “And who embodies Vanderbilt’s values and mission as a collaborative center for scholarly research, informed and creative teaching, and service to the community and society at large.”

Diermeier stated that Wente embodied these values during her eight years as provost. As the first female provost, she advocated for women in science and was more broadly committed to increasing diversity and inclusiveness across campus. She appointed Vanderbilt’s first female athletic director who was also the first African American in the SEC to hold the position. Diermeier emphasized the importance of continuing this commitment to diversity.

“Our next Provost will be a leader who embodies our values in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion, has a clear record of achievement and the strategic vision to help shape the execution of Vanderbilt’s academic strategy for many years to come,” Diermier said. 

Wente also co-chaired the development of Vanderbilt’s Academic Strategic Plan that the next provost will be tasked with upholding. The plan was designed to bring all of Vanderbilt’s colleges and schools together in pursuit of an immersive, interdisciplinary undergraduate residential experience. 

“I would like to say that I am grateful to Susan Wente for her years of leadership and service to Vanderbilt, and I wish her much success at Wake Forest. She leaves a lasting legacy at Vanderbilt that will positively impact our community for years to come, and she will be missed,” Diermeier said. 

A website was created to allow students, faculty, and alumni to offer input on desired qualifications and attributes as well as to suggest candidates for consideration. Spencer Stuart also accepts nominations emailed directly to them. 

“We’ll make an announcement as soon as a decision has been made, and we’ve found the right person for the job,” Diermeier said. “In the meantime, I would encourage all members of the Vanderbilt community to take part in the process and submit their feedback via the online form on the Provost search website.”