Celebrating new vice chancellors; mourning lost colleague

This week was one of joy and pain in our Public Affairs world.

Beth Fortune

Beth Fortune

We celebrated the happy announcement of our interim leader, Beth Fortune, as vice chancellor of public affairs. Beth’s appointment, which is pending the approval of the Board of Trust, was very welcome news to members of the division, who have benefited  from her leadership, collegiality, mentoring and advocacy during the nine years she’s been at the university. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Beth served as the first female gubernatorial press secretary in state history, just one item on her very long list of professional accomplishments and honors. We are delighted to have her at the helm. Congratulations, Vice Chancellor Fortune! Read more on VUCast.


Susie Stalcup

We also celebrated the naming of Susie Stalcup as vice chancellor for development and almuni affairs. Stalcup comes to Vanderbilt from Columbia University Medical Center, where she has led all aspects of CUMC’s $1 billion capital campaign, which met its goal two-and-a-half years before the scheduled December 2011 conclusion. The DAR position was one of several held by Chancellor Zeppos before he was named chancellor in March 2008. Stalcup’s appointment, also pending approval by the Board of Trust, is expected to begin in January 2009. Congratulations, Vice Chancellor Stalcup! Read more on VUCast.

Neil Brake

Neil Brake

And finally, this week we gathered together at Benton Chapel to mourn the loss of our dear colleague, Neil Brake. Neil died Nov. 4 at the age of 47. He was one of the university’s, and many would argue the region’s, best photographers, known for his outstanding eye, his ability to capture the precise, perfect moment, and the ease at which he put his subjects. The juxtaposition of the joy that shines through his photographs, of which his colleagues in Creative Services prepared a wonderful slide show for the memorial, and the pain of his loss was heartbreaking. I knew when looking at the many pictures of smiling people that those smiles were often so bright because of the person behind the camera.

I had the great pleasure of working with Neil for several years, and remember the fun times we had on the Roads Scholars bus tour and the time he gave me a spontaneous and riproaring lift all the way from the Baker Building to the Wyatt Center in his famous golf cart, changing a ho-hum day into a big adventure. But what I’ll remember most about Neil is the way I always felt whenever I saw him or talked with him–I felt like I must be one of his favorite people. He was always so happy to see me, so funny and kind, so helpful. I now know that one of his legacies is that he made us all feel as though we were one of his favorite people. We miss you, Neil.

Read Jim Patterson’s story on the memorial service on myVU.


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