ABOVE: Nick Zeppos. // Photo Courtesy of Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nick Zeppos announced Tuesday that he will step down, effective Aug. 15, citing some health issues.
The university’s eighth chancellor, Zeppos served in the role for 11 years. In a statement, he said he will take a yearlong sabbatical before returning to the faculty as professor of law. The VU Board of Trustees has voted to appoint Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan Wente as interim chancellor. A national search, led by board chairman Bruce Evans, will be conducted to find Zeppos’ successor.
“I truly love Vanderbilt and serving you has been a privilege,” Zeppos said in the release. “Yet my health is presenting challenges that demand my focus, with the love and support of my family. Passing the torch of leadership of this great university from one chancellor to another is never easy but it is inevitable, and I do so with full confidence that the ninth chancellor will take full advantage of the strong foundation that has been built and chart a path to further greatness with you.”
Zeppos was named VU chancellor in March 2008, after serving for seven months as interim chancellor. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor of law, and then spent the next 21 years serving the university in various roles, including as professor, associate dean of Vanderbilt Law School, associate provost for academic affairs, vice chancellor and provost.
In 2008, Zeppos led the launch of Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s pioneering financial aid program, which replaced loans with scholarships. Over the past 10 years, Opportunity Vanderbilt has supported 10,000 students and raised more than $400 million in gifts. Today, more than 65 percent of Vanderbilt undergraduates receive financial aid.
Under his watch, Vanderbilt also has built The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, overhauling the first-year experience for many students and constructed other living-learning buildings. Work also is underway on a massive project to replace the four Carmichael Towers buildings along West End Avenue with a complex highlighted by a 20-story tower.