Anonymous donor pledges $5 million to Vanderbilt Dean’s Chair in Engineering

Philippe Fauchet
Philippe Fauchet (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

An anonymous donor has pledged $5,000,000 to establish the Dean’s Chair in Engineering at Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering, Chancellor Nicholas S.  Zeppos announced at the school’s annual distinguished alumni celebration dinner April 14.

Deans’ chairs represent the highest faculty honor in academia, recognizing a dean based on the influence of his or her scholarship, teaching and leadership. The new dean’s chair allows the leader of the School of Engineering, currently Philippe Fauchet, to pursue important initiatives that will support the school’s future success.

“This represents a well-deserved honor of Dean Fauchet’s leadership and reflects Vanderbilt’s important role in informing the engineering dialogue across the nation,” Zeppos said. “The school continues on its upward momentum, building off its reputation of preparing well-rounded students to graduate as intellectual leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in their field and beyond. We are incredibly grateful for this commitment.”

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Dean Philippe Faucet at the School of Engineering's April 14 distinguished alumni celebration at the Student Life Center. (Anne Rayner / Vanderbilt)

The school’s continued ascending trajectory can be seen in several areas. The admittance rate for the undergraduate Class of 2019 was 9.8 percent. Research expenditures per faculty member exceed $800,000 per year, placing Vanderbilt among the top 15 engineering schools in the country. Additionally, the new Engineering and Science Building, which will open in the summer of 2016, will be a major driver of innovative, interdisciplinary research, technologies and ventures that will help solve real-world problems.

“This chair recognizes Dean Fauchet’s outstanding leadership and vision for the School of Engineering. It will also help Vanderbilt ensure continued excellence in recruiting and retaining pre-eminent talent to the deanship in the decades to come, allowing the university to bring the top minds to lead the School of Engineering,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente said. “These leaders in turn will attract outstanding students and faculty members to Vanderbilt. This chair is truly an investment in the entire Vanderbilt community and in our future.”

Fauchet’s vision for the school is to build on three areas representing large-scale societal needs as well as strengths at Vanderbilt: medicine and health, energy and natural resources, and security. In particular, regenerative medicine, big data, and energy and natural resources are among the top priorities for future growth at the school.

“This is a great honor for the university and the School of Engineering,” said Fauchet. “This chair will drive innovation and support key engineering leaders who will solve some of the greatest challenges facing us today.”

With the addition of this new chair, five of Vanderbilt’s 10 schools now have chairs restricted to the dean’s position, including Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management and Peabody College of education and human development.