Category Archives: Administration

Google Search Appliance comes to Vanderbilt

What’s that shiny yellow box brightening up our data center?

Google Search Appliance

It’s Vanderbilt’s new Google Search Appliance, huzzah! It arrived June 8 and is currently being poked, prodded, tweaked, configured and all other manner of things to prepare it to serve as the new search engine for the university and Medical Center Web presence.

What can these shiny new boxes do?

  • Index up to 10 million documents
  • Personalization of searches tailored for VU and VMC
  • Advanced reporting
  • Subscription feature for alerts for topics and documents of interest
  • Spellchecker in a bunch of languages
  • Google quality and ranking
  • Integration with existing security and access-control systems
  • Customization for campus clients: search of Intranets, servers, portals, file shares, databases, content management systems and real-time data in business applications
  • Did I already say 10 million docs in one box?

These features are just the tip of the iceberg, and though really exciting to a handful of us, the end result for the millions of people who use our Web site should be faster searching with better results.

A big thank you to ITS and Public Affairs for making this happen. More details to come post-launch hopefully in the next month or so.

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Commencment 2009

Commencement 2009 had a stormy start, as thunder, lightning and a soaked Alumni Lawn and chairs drove the Class of 2009 into Memorial Gym. The house was packed, and the rain did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the graduating students and their families. News and photos can be found on the  Vanderbilt homepage; a sample is below (Great job Jenny, Daniel, Steve & John!).

Kudos to the excellent Commencement team on another job very well done.

Congratulations, Class of 2009, and the very best of wishes for what comes next. You were a remarkable class and you will be remembered!

Commencement 2009

Commencement 2009

Commencement 2009

Commencement 2009

One of the pros behind the VU lens: John Russell

One of the pros behind the VU lens: John Russell

Commencement 2009

Commencement 2009

Taylor Stokes

Taylor Stokes

Bring on the strawberries and champagne!

Bring on the strawberries and champagne!

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Senior Day 2009

After what seemed like endless days of rain, the clouds parted this Senior Class Day afternoon for soon-to-be-alumni and their families and friends enjoying Vanderbilt and Nashville as they prepare for Commencement. The festivities are going splendidly, from the always-rockin’ The PARTY, held last night with The Al McKay Allstars who played the happy music of Earth, Wind & Fire, to an excellent Senior Day speech today by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitizer Prize winning author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Many events and parties going on all day and tomorrow, with the big ceremony taking place at 9 a.m. on Alumni Lawn (hopefully! If the weather refuses to cooperate, we’ll be in Memorial Gym). Get the full schedule.

We’re tweeting all this of course and hope you will too – tag all your Vanderbilt Commencement tweets with #VU2009, and go here to see what’s going on so far.

Photos below by our stellar photographers of The PARTY and Senior Day. Hold onto your hats for tomorrow – they’re planning a fantastic shot using Gigapan. Check the Commencement site for that tomorrow, as well.

The PARTY

The PARTY

The Party

The Party

Vice Chancellor David Williams at The PARTY

Vice Chancellor David Williams at The PARTY

Al McKay at The PARTY

Al McKay at The PARTY

Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos addresses the class of 2009 during Senior Day.

Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos addresses the class of 2009 during Senior Day.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about her life as a historian during Senior Day.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about her life as a historian during Senior Day.

The crowd at Senior Day.

The crowd at Senior Day.

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Friday Night Lights, Twitter and Vanderbilt

April 2 Update: Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of this story.

Okay, where to begin.

I used to watch the show Friday Night Lights fairly regularly, via Netflix, after reading the umpteenth review that, besides The Wire, it was some of the best TV out there. I lost touch with it and happended to be flipping channels two weeks ago on a Friday night when lo and behold, not only is it on, but one of the main characters, Lyla Garrity, is talking about coming to Vanderbilt in the fall. “Cool,” I thought. (I know, I’m deep).

A few days later I was logged into the Vanderbilt Twitter feed, and noticed a Lyla Garrity was following Vanderbilt. Checked out her feed, and it is written as if Lyla herself, the character not the actress, is writing the updates. Further, many of the people she is responding to and tweeting with are also show characters. Checked them out too, and it seems the Friday Night Lights folks have gone whole hog for Twitter. Many if not all of the main characters are posting updates and interacting with and giving fans some extra goods on the show’s twists, turns and touchdowns via Twitter.

Some of the latest news is that Lyla doesn’t think she’ll be able to attend her dream school, Vandy, because her dad went and squandered her college fund. She tweets about it. Unable to resist at this point and recognizing that I’m living in a strange time where I’m talking to television characters, I messaged her back to be sure she was aware of Vanderbilt’s Expanded Financial Aid program, that commits to meeting 100 percent of a family’s financial need without need-based loans. Why did I do this? To get the word out about the program to people that might not have heard of it, and to dip my toe a little further in the water of Tweetversation.

Despite its extensive, nearly smothering coverage in the media, many people still have this response to Twitter. This latest interaction – both on the part of the show, and our response, I think illustrates its permutations and implications are endless, until the next new thing comes along at least.

Lyla responded with thanks, saying the financial aid program is just what she needs right now. Do I smell a spin-off: Friday Night Lights: Nashville?

P.S. I recognize that I’m posting this unusual tale on April Fool’s Day, but I assure you, it is all true.

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Chancellor taking pay cut

See coverage on WPLN of an event yesterday on campus in which students respectfully presented a letter to Provost McCarty addressed to Chancellor Zeppos in support of low-wage workers at Vanderbilt that called for administrative pay cuts before layoffs of the least paid workers. Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune shared with media that Chancellor Zeppos had already decided to take a salary reduction months before. Dialogue is likely to continue across campus amongst all concerned parties as the university continues to adjust to the global economic downturn.

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VPD @ 100 Oaks

Good story on NewsChannel 5 last night about Vanderbilt Police Department’s  new presence at 100 Oaks. Big win win so far for merchants, patients, community and Vanderbilt. Take a look.

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So what’s really happening with Vanderbilt’s endowment?

News released today from the university indicates the university’s endowment declined 16.5 percent during these dreary past six months. As of Dec. 31, 2008, the Vanderbilt endowment stood at $2.9 billion, down from $3.5 billion on June 30, 2008.

Normally, quite bad news. Given the current climate however, these numbers show the university is holding its own and in fact is “poised very well to navigate this environment,” according to Matthew Wright, vice chancellor for investments. Wright attributed the endowment’s performance to a shift in investment strategy beginning in August 2008 when the university began converting significant stock market assets to cash and liquid securities.

Overall, universities have seen a 22.9 percent drop over the same time period, according to a survey on endowment performance conducted by National Association of College and University Business Officers. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index dropped about 30 percent from July 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2008.

Get the full story on VUCast.

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