Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, has announced a $5 million commitment from an anonymous foundation in honor of chancellor emeritus Nicholas S. Zeppos.
Zeppos, who served as chancellor of the university from 2008 to 2019, will work with university leadership to determine the best use of the gift. During his tenure, Zeppos helped establish the Opportunity Vanderbilt financial aid program, which replaced student loans with no-obligation grants and scholarships during the financial crisis of 2008-09; a new residential college system; and the positions of chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Currently on a year-long sabbatical, Zeppos is expected to return to the faculty as a University Distinguished Professor of Law and Political Science for the 2020-21 academic year. The university had previously honored its chancellor emeritus’ contributions with scholarship gifts and the naming of one of its newest residential colleges.
"I am deeply moved by this gift," said Zeppos. "There's an adage that often comes to mind when I think of Vanderbilt's community of support: 'It takes a noble person to plant a seed for a tree that will someday give shade to people they may never meet.' This generation-to-generation philanthropy means a great deal to me, Vanderbilt, and those we serve."