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“Go There” – Chancellor Zeppos Speaks about VU Mental Health & Well-being Initiative (Part 2 of 2)


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Nicholas Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, opens up about the new campus-wide campaign called “Go There.” This initiative is focused on creating a nurturing campus environment with easily accessible resources that promotes positive mental health and well-being for Vanderbilt faculty, staff, and students.

Part 2 of 2.

For additional information about the initiative and available resources, visit #GoThereVandy

Begin Transcript

Janet McCutchen: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Janet McCutchen with Work/Life Connections. Chancellor Zeppos, thank you again for talking with us about the “Go There” campaign. You had mentioned the town hall meetings, and you have reached out to the community on campus and talked about how to support mental health and well-being, and I know you have those town hall meetings and you have talked to a lot of people. Do you have in mind maybe one or two of your top takeaways from those town hall meetings?

Nicholas Zeppos: I would say the two take takeaways are first of all a sense of compassionate gratitude. I feel very much that the people in the town hall are signaling to each other and signaling to me that we were grateful that the university and not just me but you and so many others, student leaders, staff leaders, administrators, faculty leaders have kind of said this is really important. So, I would say the first is kind of a sense of gratitude. I think the second is a sense of commitment in building some trust that this is real, that this is going to be sustained, that there will be continual roll out of conversations, investments, care strategies, success strategies, and so that would be a kind of a sense of I am grateful that this is being brought up and then a sense of yeah we maybe can do some really, really exciting things in an area that for most of society and most large employers and universities is just not given the attention that it really deserves.
Janet McCutchen: And what I am hearing you say is that these town hall meetings are not just events. It is just a beginning.
Nicholas Zeppos: Oh, no.
Janet McCutchen: You are building on the feedback that you have gotten.
Nicholas Zeppos: Oh, yeah, we have gotten excellent feedback and we have brave ambassadors speak up and share their own stories and say how do I get involved and how do I get engaged. We are actually seeing behavior being demonstrated that we can all start to model of courage and normalizing and here is how I succeed at Vanderbilt and this is good that we are doing this. I love events. I think they are great, but this is not just let’s get together twice a year. This is really let’s get together on a regular basis, and just like other things we get together on a regular basis. Let’s talk about it and get your ideas, get your kind of buy in, get your trust, get your support, and then let’s really build on that. Build on your enthusiasm, build on your compassion, build on your leadership, and build on your sense of commitment that will make everyone, including me, even hopefully more courageous to keep leading.

Janet McCutchen: It’s clear that you have such an outstanding vision of the “Go There” initiative. As you think ahead, what is your objective 3 to 5 years down the road as a result of this “Go There” initiative? What do you see? What is your vision?

Nicholas Zeppos: For me, thinking about it in a different way is I want Vanderbilt as a university, as a community, and as a place people work and learn. I want it to be known as in 5 years this is the most supportive, compassionate, forward-thinking institution when it comes to mental health and wellness, and they are kind of all in, and the care we provide, the love we provide, and the compassion and support we provide, that is kind of our as much as the beautiful trees are in the campus. I want us to be known for that, so that would be very much one thing. The second thing would be that our faculty, staff, and students are getting the care, the support, and that they know it. That is as easy as where can I get a quick lunch? I want everyone here to say, “Where do people go to get support for mental health challenges and struggles they are having?” I wanted it to be just as visible, proximate, and non-stigmatized as every other good thing on the campus. So, that would entail a level of commitment and service and teamwork that is going be hard to achieve, but I am just determined to do it, and then I would like Vanderbilt to be a school, place of passion and work and care where we have normalized and kind of de-stigmatized and that those sorts of interactions are much more open and they are much more standard.

Janet McCutchen: That is an outstanding vision, and we certainly appreciate your time today. What an excellent opportunity for us to have time with you and answering these all important questions. This is just the beginning of going there, isn’t it?

Nicholas Zeppos: It is the beginning, but when you walk through a forest, sometimes someone walked the path before, and at Vanderbilt, usually there are some pretty well-walked paths. This is one where I think we are going to have to put our feet to the ground and start to walk a path and wear that path, and it is kind of like the campus, maybe someday it will be such a well-worn path we will pave that, and it will just be easier to get from kind of struggling to wellness.

Janet McCutchen: That is outstanding. Chancellor Zeppos, thank you so much for your time today. It has been a pleasure.

Nicholas Zeppos: Thank you so much.

Janet McCutchen: To find more information about the “Go There” initiative and Vanderbilt’s resources that support mental health and well-being, visit You can also search #gotherevandy on social media to see more news and stories about Go There.
Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page. If you have a story or suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at Thanks for listening.

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Posted on Monday, May 8, 2017 in Wellcasts, Work/Life Connections and tagged ,


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