A Year Like No OtherChancellor Daniel Diermeier, Ryan Underwood
In 2020, as COVID-19 threw the U.S. higher education system into turmoil, university administrators around the country debated whether it was prudent—or even possible—to teach students in person or conduct laboratory research amid a once-in-a-century pandemic. For the leadership at Vanderbilt University, the answer to the question was a resounding Yes. Viewing residential education and collaborative research as essential to its academic and societal mission, Vanderbilt was one of a small number of America’s top universities to put rigorous safety protocols in place to allow students, faculty, and research personnel back to campus in the fall.
Told with recollections and insights from Vanderbilt’s leaders, students, faculty, and staff, and moving at a pace matching the events it describes, A Year Like No Other takes readers from Vanderbilt’s near-shutdown in the spring through its reopening for the 2020–2021 academic year, providing an inside look at how the university coped not only with COVID-19, but also with a tragic night of tornadoes and the urgent calls for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd. A Year Like No Other also highlights some of the vital contributions that faculty at Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have made to the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, with research fueled in part by Dolly Parton, the beloved country music legend.
A Year Like No Other captures a singular moment in the university’s history while delivering a concise portrait of successful crisis management playing out amid the fast-changing circumstances of global health threats and a barrage of local hardships.