How is the university responding to concerns raised by a recent Science article about an ongoing tenure review?
We are working across a variety of channels to communicate directly with those who have raised concerns about the issues referenced. We are responding to those who have raised questions, both within our community, at other universities, and beyond, and have held departmental meetings and open round table discussions, participated in conversations with students and others, and issued a public statement.
As you know, we are limited in what we can say about this situation because the details of any personnel matter are held in strict confidence. That confidentiality is built into the Faculty Manual, which was developed by the faculty and is designed to protect the privacy of all involved. Because of the confidential nature of the process, what is being shared on social media and elsewhere about any personnel matter will almost certainly be incomplete. The tenure review case driving recent conversations is ongoing and under close review.
Though we cannot discuss this case in any detail, what we are discussing and will always be proud to discuss is that we hold diversity, equity and inclusion as bedrock values. We do not tolerate sexual discrimination or misconduct, nor do we tolerate retaliation against those that stand up against it. We want individuals to report any and all forms of harassment, intimidation and misconduct and we work to protect those who do so from retaliation.
Hand in hand with this is our staunch support of free speech and intellectual freedom. We respect, support and protect the right of our faculty to raise their voices on issues about which they are passionate. We do not retaliate or tolerate retaliation against any individual for exercising this right.
I also wanted to be sure you were aware that two key committees were formed in the fall of 2018 to examine and make recommendations about the climate for women at Vanderbilt — a provost’s steering committee for faculty, students and postdocs and a staff steering committee. I encourage anyone with concerns to share those with these committees to consider as part of their efforts. Please visit the Women@Vanderbilt website to learn more about these and other initiatives.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs