Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the South. The Commodore hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Today, Vanderbilt comprises four undergraduate and six graduate schools, enrolling approximately 11,800 students from all 50 U.S. states and over 90 foreign countries. In its 2008 ranking of universities, U.S. News & World Report placed Vanderbilt 19th overall, and ranked the schools of education, law, medicine, and nursing among the top 20 in the country. The university is among the top 25 recipients of federal educational research funds. Also affiliated with the university are several research institutes, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, the Dyer Observatory, and the comprehensive Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the only Level I trauma center in Middle Tennessee.

With the exception of the off-campus observatory, all of Vanderbilt's facilities are situated on a 330-acre (1.3 km²) plot in the heart of Nashville only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from downtown. Despite its urban surroundings, the campus itself is a national arboretum and features over 300 species of trees and shrubs.

Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt had a vision of a place that would “contribute to strengthening the ties that should exist between all sections of our common country” when he gave a million dollars to create a university in 1873. Today, that vision has been realized in Vanderbilt, an internationally recognized research university in Nashville, Tennessee, with strong partnerships among its 10 schools, neighboring institutions and the community.

Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development, as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees. The combination of cutting edge research, liberal arts and a distinguished medical center creates an invigorating atmosphere where students tailor their education to meet their goals and researchers collaborate to solve complex problems affecting our health, culture and society.

Vanderbilt provides a gateway to greatness, drawing the best and brightest students from across the nation and around the world. Vanderbilt alumni can be found in Congress, on the judicial bench, heading corporations, conducting innovative medical research, writing for and appearing on the stage and screen, and playing in the NFL, NBA and major league baseball.

An independent, privately supported university, Vanderbilt is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee and the second largest private employer based in the state.


Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was in his 79th year when he decided to make the gift that founded Vanderbilt University in the spring of 1873. The $1 million that he gave to endow and build the university was the Commodore's only major philanthropy. Methodist Bishop Holland N. McTyeire of Nashville, a cousin of the Commodore's young second wife, went to New York for medical treatment early in 1873 and spent time recovering in the Vanderbilt mansion. He won the Commodore's admiration and support for the project of building a university in the South that would "contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country."

McTyeire chose the site for the campus, supervised the construction of buildings and personally planted many of the trees that today make Vanderbilt a National Arboretum. At the outset, the university consisted of one Main Building (now Kirkland Hall), an astronomical observatory and houses for professors. Landon C. Garland was Vanderbilt's first chancellor, serving from 1875 to 1893. He advised McTyeire in selecting the faculty, arranged the curriculum and set the policies of the university.

For the first 40 years of its existence, Vanderbilt was under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust severed its ties with the church in June 1914 as a result of a dispute with the bishops over who would appoint university trustees.

From the outset, Vanderbilt met two definitions of a university: It offered work in the liberal arts and sciences beyond the baccalaureate degree and it embraced several professional schools in addition to its college. James H. Kirkland, the longest serving chancellor in university history (1893-1937), followed Chancellor Garland. He guided Vanderbilt to rebuild after a fire in 1905 that consumed the main building, which was renamed in Kirkland's honor, and all its contents. He also navigated the university through the separation from the Methodist Church. Notable advances in graduate studies were made under the third chancellor, Oliver Cromwell Carmichael (1937-46). He also created the Joint University Library, brought about by a coalition of Vanderbilt, Peabody College and Scarritt College.

Remarkable continuity has characterized the government of Vanderbilt. The original charter, issued in 1872, was amended in 1873 to make the legal name of the corporation "The Vanderbilt University." The charter has not been altered since.

The university is self-governing under a Board of Trust that, since the beginning, has elected its own members and officers. The university's general government is vested in the Board of Trust. The immediate government of the university is committed to the chancellor, who is elected by the Board of Trust.

The original Vanderbilt campus consisted of 75 acres. By 1960, the campus had spread to about 260 acres of land. When George Peabody College for Teachers merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, about 53 acres were added.

Vanderbilt's student enrollment tended to double itself each 25 years during the first century of the university's history: 307 in the fall of 1875; 754 in 1900; 1,377 in 1925; 3,529 in 1950; 7,034 in 1975. In the fall of 1999 the enrollment was 10,127.

In the planning of Vanderbilt, the assumption seemed to be that it would be an all-male institution. Yet the board never enacted rules prohibiting women. At least one woman attended Vanderbilt classes every year from 1875 on. Most came to classes by courtesy of professors or as special or irregular (non-degree) students. From 1892 to 1901 women at Vanderbilt gained full legal equality except in one respect -- access to dorms. In 1894 the faculty and board allowed women to compete for academic prizes. By 1897, four or five women entered with each freshman class. By 1913 the student body contained 78 women, or just more than 20 percent of the academic enrollment.

National recognition of the university's status came in 1949 with election of Vanderbilt to membership in the select Association of American Universities. In the 1950s Vanderbilt began to outgrow its provincial roots and to measure its achievements by national standards under the leadership of Chancellor Harvie Branscomb. By its 90th anniversary in 1963, Vanderbilt for the first time ranked in the top 20 private universities in the United States.

Vanderbilt continued to excel in research, and the number of university buildings more than doubled under the leadership of Chancellors Alexander Heard (1963-1982) and Joe B. Wyatt (1982-2000), only the fifth and sixth chancellors in Vanderbilt's long and distinguished history. Heard added three schools (Blair, the Owen Graduate School of Management and Peabody College) to the seven already existing and constructed three dozen buildings. During Wyatt's tenure, Vanderbilt acquired or built one-third of the campus buildings and made great strides in diversity, volunteerism and technology.

The university grew and changed significantly the leadership of its seventh Chancellor Gordon Gee, who served from 2000-2007. Vanderbilt led the country in the rate of growth for academic research funding, which increased to more than $450 million. Applications for admission rose from 8,000 in 2000 to more than 13,000 in 2007, and the university became one of the most selective institutions in the country. Gee flaunted conventional wisdom in 2003 with a radical restructuring of the athletics program, which resulted in improved student athlete academic achievement and a jump in the university's athletic performance, with seven teams being ranked in the top 25 nationally in 2006-2007. During this time the university saw a 50 percent increase in the number of minority students, completed or began construction of more than $700 million in new facilities, including one of the nation's best children's hospitals, and became the most-preferred provider of health care services in middle Tennessee.

On March 1, 2008, Nicholas Zeppos was named Vanderbilt's eighth chancellor.

Today, Vanderbilt University is a private research university of 6,378 undergraduates and 5,229 graduate and professional students. The university comprises 10 schools, a distinguished medical center, a public policy center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees. The university is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top 20 universities by publications such as U.S. News & World Report, with several programs and disciplines ranking in the top 10.

The combination of cutting-edge research, liberal arts and a distinguished medical center creates an invigorating atmosphere where students tailor their education to meet their goals and researchers collaborate to solve complex questions affecting our health, culture and society.

An independent, privately supported university employing nearly 2,700 full-time faculty and a staff of over 17,500, Vanderbilt is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee and the second largest private employer in the state.


STUDENTS (2007/2008)
Undergraduate: 6,532
Graduate and professional: 5,315
TOTAL: 11,847
Full-time: 11,107
Men: 5,581 47%
Women: 6,266 53%

Percentage of undergraduates who live on campus: 84%

Percentage of undergraduates receiving some sort of financial aid: 60%

Undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1

Undergraduate tuition: $34,414
New Freshmen
Number of new freshmen: 1,673
SAT I-verbal mid 50% range: 640-730
SAT I-math mid 50% range: 660-740
ACT mid 50% range: 29-32
Number of applicants: 12,911

Degrees Conferred 2007
Baccalaureate: 1,468
Master's: 1,062
M.D.: 114
Other doctoral: 498
Total degrees conferred: 3,142 No honorary degrees are conferred

Enrollment by School
College of Arts and Science: 3,843
Blair School of Music: 197
School of Engineering: 1,305
School of Nursing: 618
Peabody College: 1,650
Divinity School: 230
Graduate School: 2,121
Law School: 628
Medical School: 624
Owen Graduate School of Management: 519
Division of Unclassified Studies: 25

Student Housing
Residence halls and apartments: 30
Capacity: 4,915
Sorority Houses: 11
Fraternity Houses: 15

Extracurricular activities
More than 320 clubs and organizations
Sororities: 14
Fraternities: 21

Regional Breakdown
New England 4%
Midwest 14%
South 45%
Middle States 13%
West 7%
Southwest 8%
U.S. Territories >.1%
International 8%
Unspecified >.1%


College of Arts and Science: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts*, Master of Science*, Doctor of Philosophy*

Blair School of Music: Bachelor of Music

Divinity School: Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts*, Doctor of Philosophy*

School of Engineering: Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Science, Master of Engineering, Master of Science*, Doctor of Philosophy*

Graduate School: Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Liberal Arts and Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Law School: Master of Laws, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Doctor of Philosophy*

School of Medicine: Master of Laboratory Investigation, Master of Science in Medical Physics, Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Clinical Investigation, Doctor of Audiology, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy*

School of Nursing: Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Philosophy*

Owen Graduate School of Management: Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Accountancy, Doctor of Philosophy*

Peabody College (of education and human development): Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, Master of Public Policy, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Philosophy*


The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's, education specialist's and doctor's degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Nobel Laureates
Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D. 1971, 2006 Peace Prize for establishing the Grameen Bank and his pioneering the practice of providing micro loans to the impoverished.
Vanderbilt Medical Center faculty member Stanley Cohen, 1986 Prize in Medicine, for his discovery with a colleague of epidermal growth factor.
Stanford Moore, B.A. 1935, 1972 Prize in Chemistry, for fundamental contributions to the understanding of enzyme chemistry.
Vanderbilt Medical Center faculty member Earl Sutherland Jr., 1971 Prize in Medicine, for his discovery of the metabolic regulating compound cyclic AMP.
Vanderbilt physics professor Max Delbruck (1940-47), 1969 Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.


The Times of London
53rd -- Best Universities in the World
26th -- Best in North America

National Research Council survey of graduate programs
Pharmacology Ph.D. program
6th -- Faculty quality
3rd -- Program effectiveness

Religion Ph.D. program
7th -- Faculty quality
8th -- Program effectiveness

Business Week
30th -- Graduate Business Schools (Owen Graduate School of Management)
24th -- Executive MBA Programs (Owen Graduate School of Management)

U.S. News & World Report
19th -- National Universities
14th -- Best Value
18th -- Research-oriented Medical Schools
3rd -- Graduate Schools of Education (Peabody College)
34th -- Graduate Business Schools (Owen Graduate School of Management)
16th -- Law Schools
19th -- Graduate Schools of Nursing
42nd -- Graduate Engineering Schools
43rd -- Undergraduate Engineering Schools

One of 25 new "Ivies"

Thompson’s ISI
1st -- Most cited program in pharmacology


Conference membership:
Southeastern Conference Eastern Division
American Lacrosse Conference (lacrosse)
Men's varsity teams: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis
Women's varsity teams: basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track
Seating Capacity:
Memorial Gymnasium: 14,193
Vanderbilt Stadium: 39,447
School Colors: Black and Gold
School Mascot: The Commodore


Number of living alumni: 114,226
Number of alumni residing in Nashville: 19,314
Alumni Association founded: 1879
Number of alumni clubs worldwide: 35


Located a mile and a half southwest of downtown Nashville, the campus is a park-like setting. Vanderbilt is home to more than 300 tree and shrub varieties and was designated a national arboretum in 1988. Buildings on the original campus date to its founding in 1873. The Peabody section of campus has been a registered National Historic Landmark since 1966. Off-campus facilities include the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, situated on a 1,131-foot hill, six miles south of campus.

Grounds area in acres: 330
Number of buildings: 229
Total square footage of physical plant: 16.9 million
University Central: 6.2 million square feet, 37%
Medical Center: 8.9 million square feet, 53%
Real Estate: 1.8 million square feet, 10%

Vanderbilt university ranked 82th in the 2007 THES-QS World University Ranking

Vanderbilt university ranked 101st in the 2008 THES-QS World University Ranking

Vanderbilt university ranked 140th in the 2009 THES-QS World University Ranking

Vanderbilt university ranked 134th in the 2010 QS World University Ranking

Vanderbilt university ranked 131th in the 2011 QS World University Ranking
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruits is sweet ~ Aristotle

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela

Education is not a preparation for life, Education is life itself ~ John Dewey
William Butler Yeats: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.