—Updated 3/1/08 at 3:37 p.m. with quotes from Chancellor Nick Zeppos and Chairman of the Board Martha Ingram.

Although the Board of Trust searched the nation for the next chancellor of Vanderbilt University, they needed not look beyond Kirkland Hall.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Nick Zeppos will be Vanderbilt’s eighth chancellor, officials announced today, marking the first time in 60 years a chancellor has come from within the administration.

The Board of Trust appointed Zeppos to the interim position in July when former Chancellor Gordon Gee returned to the presidency of The Ohio State University, and Zeppos has been a major contender for the permanent position, one executive search committee member said in December.

The board "unanimously and enthusiastically" elected Zeppos to the position, said Chairman of the Board Martha Ingram.

"Chancellor Zeppos has contributed his talents in many different capacities," she said. "... He has seen Vanderbilt through important moments in our history, and has led our evolution into a truly global university."

Zeppos said he his honored to take on the position and that he really only ever wanted to be a teacher — he said he never saw himself as a dean, a provost and certainly not a chancellor.

"I very, very humbly accept the invitation to serve as chancellor of this university," he said. "... The hardest thing for me is to be an administrator when I'm a teacher. ... I always consider myself a faculty member."

Zeppos came to Vanderbilt in 1987 as a law professor and served as an associate dean and then as associate provost before being named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2002.

He said he is “honored and grateful for the trust that the board, faculty, students and alumni have placed in me at this critical time in Vanderbilt’s history. ... A university is the most vital institution in society because it is built on timeless values of truth, knowledge, discoveryand healing. Vanderbilt has so much to offer society, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on campus, in the community and around the world to continue this university's mission of excellence and service."

After Gee's resignation this summer, the board appointed a nine-member search committee to conduct a national search for the next chancellor.

Dennis C. Bottorff, chair of the search committee, said the group looked for a leader that possessed a number of important qualities and that Zeppos embodied those characteristics.

“Vanderbilt set the highest possible standard in seeking our next chancellor,” Bottorff said. “We wanted someone with an effective balance of executive leadership and scholarship, an individual who understands the centrality of the undergraduate experience and, at the same time, recognizes the crucial role of our graduate and professional schools and medical center. We were seeking a person who could manage, lead and inspire; who is committed to Vanderbilt’s central missions of education, research and service; and who has a passion for excellence and success in everything that we do. We sought someone who will value and promote the life of the mind in all corners of the university, who can effectively represent Vanderbilt locally and nationally, and who can promote a culture of philanthropy to sustain Vanderbilt’s growth.

“Our search identified the person who uniquely possesses these qualities, and he is Nick Zeppos.”

Divinity School Dean James Hudnut-Beumler chaired an advisory committee of students, faculty and staff said Zeppos "offers the entire package."

“The input of students, faculty and staff this fall helped guide the search committee to focus on academic leaders who combined excellence in scholarship with broad interests in every aspect of university life and had the personal skills to lead and manage a complex institution," Hudnut-Beumler said. "With Nick Zeppos we have found a leader who offers the entire package and who knows and loves Vanderbilt.”

Zeppos said that as chancellor it is important for him to consider the university's presence in the local and global communities

"Vanderbilt must be part of the community," he said. "As Nashville thrives, we thrive. And as we thrive, Nashville thrives."

But ultimately he said his job is to work for the students, faculty and staff at Vanderbilt.

"I want to empower people to have dreams," Zeppos said. "My role is to create an environment of people's dreams, and to love and realize them. That's how I view the chancellor."

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