Home » Part I The University and Its Governance » Chapter 4: University Committees

Chapter 4: University Committees

University Committees serve Vanderbilt as a whole, in contrast with committees within the schools or certain specialized committees within administrative units.

Invitations to membership on these standing University Committees are extended in writing by the Chancellor.

All committees have at least two categories of membership: faculty and ex officio/administrative. Some have student members, and some have particular requirements, such as alumni representation or citizen members not affiliated with Vanderbilt.

Nominations for faculty positions are made by the Consultative Committee of the Faculty Senate. The Committee calls for faculty volunteers each year and also seeks the advice of Deans, committee chairs, and administrative officers in making its recommendations. The Consultative Committee in submitting nominations for membership to the Chancellor may also recommend faculty for committee chairs when positions are open.

For committees with student members, nominations of undergraduates are submitted to the Chancellor by the Student Government Association. Nominations of graduate or professional students are submitted by the Graduate Student Council, by the student professional organization in the school, or, in the School of Medicine, by the senior class. These groups share the responsibility for making nominations.

Ex officio/administrative members on University Committees include (a) persons who are automatically members by virtue of the position held, and (b) persons necessary to the committee by virtue of special knowledge or experience. In the latter cases, the University officer to whom the committee reports assists the Chancellor by making nominations.

The current committees and their charges are listed in alphabetical order in the following section. Membership requirements and membership lists are on file in the Office of the Chancellor.

University Committees


The purpose of this Committee is to give advice, support, and guidance to the Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics and to the Chancellor. The Committee has the general advisory responsibility for athletics.


The Committee addresses plans for and coordination of the annual academic calendar of the schools within Vanderbilt.

Chemical Safety

This Committee considers issues pertaining to the safe handling, transport, and use of chemicals and recommends the adoption of new or revised policies through Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety.

Environmental Advisory

This Committee considers and recommends policies for the purpose of creating of a comprehensive environmental compliance program for Vanderbilt University and to assist the University in meeting regulatory requirements.

Environmental Health and Safety Oversight

This Committee serves as a resource to the University on matters of environmental health and safety compliance. The committee prepares an annual report to the University on the effectiveness of the University’s environmental health and safety compliance program.

Faculty and Staff Benefits

This Committee has responsibility for reviewing and recommending new and proposed changes to the University’s benefit program provided to the University’s faculty and staff members. The faculty and staff composition is intended to provide multiple perspectives regarding the design of benefit programs.

The Committee develops recommendations based on review and analysis of available utilization data, in consideration of specific program objectives and available financial resources for funding programs.

Institutional Animal Care

The University Committee on Institutional Animal Care is responsible for the establishment and periodic review of University policy and procedures to ensure the humane care and use of animals in experimentation or educational projects. These policies require the committee to review and approve all research or instructional projects using vertebrate animals, regardless of the funding source.

The Committee makes such recommendations to the Chancellor as are necessary to ensure that University policies are in accordance with prevailing federal, state, and local laws and guidelines.

The Committee considers in its establishment of policy for animal care the applicability of those guidelines in situations peculiar or unique to Vanderbilt as well as compliance with general standards for compliance with government regulations. It is also concerned that the policies established will lead to a standard of quality that will enhance the overall quality of scientific investigation in the University.

The Committee is responsible for the establishment of such review procedures as are necessary and appropriate to ensure that all animal care and use in the University are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and University policies.

The Committee is not involved in direct administration of any animal facility. The committee is free to consult with and take recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, the Provost, and the Deans of the several schools of the University in its function of formulating and reviewing animal care policy.

Institutional Biosafety

The functions of the Institutional Biosafety Committee are:

To review for compliance with the National Institutes of Health Guidelines all recombinant DNA research to be conducted at or sponsored by Vanderbilt and to approve those research projects that it finds are in conformity with the guidelines. This review includes: (a) an independent assessment of the containment levels required by these guidelines for the proposed research, and (b) an assessment of the facilities, procedures, and practices, and of the training and expertise of personnel engaged in recombinant DNA research or research support.

To authorize the principal investigator to proceed with a project upon receipt of proper funding agency approval or, in certain cases, without prior agency approval.

To review periodically recombinant DNA research being conducted at Vanderbilt, to ensure that the requirements of the guidelines are being fulfilled.

To adopt emergency plans covering accidental spills and possible contamination of persons resulting from such research.

To report within thirty (30) days to the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, and the Chancellor any significant problems or violations of the guidelines and any significant research-related accidents or illnesses.

Federal regulations require that the Institutional Biosafety Committee be selected so that, collectively, its members have expertise in recombinant DNA technology and the capability to assess the safety of recombinant DNA research experiments and any potential risk to public health or the environment. Noninstitutional members are also required.

Officer Education Advisory Committee

The Committee considers policy related to the Army and Navy ROTC units, approves selection of instructional staff, reviews course offerings given for credit, and deals with specific issues that may affect the operation of the units in the University community.

Radiation Safety

The responsibilities of the Radiation Safety Committee relate to and include the radiological aspects involved in the safe use and disposition of radioactive isotopes, sources emitting radiation, fissionable materials, fission products, irradiation services, and any and all material or equipment that emits radiation.

The functions of the committee are:

  • To adopt rules and policies on the use of radiation.
  • To review and act on all proposals for the use of radiation at Vanderbilt University.
  • (The Clinical Radiation Committee of the Medical Center shall review proposals for human use.)
  • To review proposed shielding and operation of all radiation-producing machines and reactors.
  • To review plans for all new buildings and modifications of existing structures where ionizing radiations are to be used.
  • To provide technical advice to the Radiation Safety Officer.
  • To review periodic reports from the Radiation Safety Officer.
  • To review all instances of alleged infractions of the use of radiation or safety rules with the Radiation Safety Officer and responsible personnel and take necessary steps to correct such infractions.
  • To ensure that all license obligations and regulations from the federal government and the State of Tennessee are met.

Religious Affairs

The Committee serves as an advisory body to the Office of Religious Life, with responsibility for reviewing policies, appointments, and programs, and for making recommendations to the Provost on the chartering of religious organizations that are not affiliated with the Office of Religious Life.

Technology Review

This Committee reviews and monitors the activities of the Office of Technology Transfer on matters relating to the administration of the University Policy on Technology and Literary and Artistic Works in accordance with the provisions of that policy. The committee is chaired by a faculty member, and the majority of members are faculty members without administrative appointments. The Committee is consulted in advance concerning any material changes to the policy. In addition, the committee approves recommended allocations between the Technology Promotion Fund and the Technology Research Fund.

The Committee serves as an appellate body advisory to the Chancellor in the event a disagreement occurs between inventors or creators and the University concerning the interpretation or application of the University’s policy. In cases in which the Committee is unable to resolve the disagreement between the parties, the Committee will forward its recommendation for a resolution to the Chancellor for a final decision.

Traffic and Parking

The main functions of the Traffic and Parking Committee are:

To reflect various consumer opinions on traffic and transportation within the University community.

To review general policies and procedures concerning campus traffic and transportation (including parking assignments, plans, and statistics) and advise the Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

To consult with the Department of Campus Planning and Construction in the development of comprehensive plans regarding traffic and transportation for submission to the Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

To become familiar with the complex systems and regulations within which the University must operate to maintain compliance with various government ordinances and agencies that ultimately influence the traffic and transportation systems of the campus.

To support the Office of Traffic and Parking as a regulating body by hearing requests for variances and by reviewing appeals of traffic citations.