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Diversity Initiatives

VUEDGE Students at EventVanderbilt University's Office for Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (VU-EDGE) efforts are based on the University's sincere desire to provide underrepresented students with access to the tools necessary to reach their professional goals while creating a diverse learning community for all of our students. We believe that the next generation of scholars and leaders must reflect the gender and racial composition of the country. To that end, we aggressively recruit, admit, and retain underrepresented students both for the benefits our University can give them and for the benefits, both intellectual and social, that they bring to our campus.

Our office is directed by Assistant Dean Don Brunson who is supported by an advisory council composed of faculty members from around campus.  

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VU-EDGE coordinates, supplements, and expands the recruiting efforts of graduate programs and departments across Vanderbilt University in order to increase enrollment of students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Our initiatives include:

  • Coordinating with the Summer Research programs that give undergraduate students a chance to develop research skills for competitive graduate school applications and to provide them with experiences as a full-time student researcher
  • Participating in recruitment fairs and visiting institutions across the country to connect with potential graduate students
  • Partnering with the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program to ensure the success and easy transition of their students and encourage greater participation in their program
  • Coordinating with schools to bring talented undergraduates from around the country to our campus, and learn about opportunities for graduate study at Vanderbilt
  • Awarding the Provost's Graduate Fellowships to underrepresented graduate students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. degree in preparation for an academic teaching career


We recognize that Vanderbilt University can be a challenging space for some underrepresented students. As an institution, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion works toward the full inclusion of all students into the life of the university. VU-EDGE lends particular support to graduate students to thrive in their academic programs by:

  • Bringing scholars from underrepresented backgrounds to share their experiences and advice
  • Supporting student-led initiatives from groups such as the Organization of Black Graduate and Professional Students (OBGAPS), the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the Graduate Students of Color Collective (GSOCC), and Graduates Out in STEM (GoSTEM).


Our work would not be possible without the collective collaboration of our diversity partners on and off campus.  We actively participate in national consortia to promote diversity in graduate education, such as the Leadership Alliance, and also extend our efforts to include:

  • Participating in national consortia that advocate on behalf of and promote diversity in graduate education
  • Coordinating with local colleges and universities to share resources and encourage their students to consider graduate school
  • Partnering with offices and departments across the university to support the unique identities of each graduate student