Vanderbilt University (also known informally as Vandy is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1873, it was named in honor of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the South. Vanderbilt hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.
Vanderbilt is in the process of converting its residence halls into a academic residential college system.Vanderbilt enrolls approximately 12,600 students from all 50 U.S. states and over 100 foreign countries in four undergraduate and six graduate and professional schools. Several research centers and institutes are affiliated with the university, including the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and Dyer Observatory. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, formerly part of the university became a separate institution in 2016. With the exception of the off-campus observatory and the Institute, all of the university's facilities are situated on its 330-acre (1.3 km2) campus in the heart of Nashville, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from downtown. Despite its urban surroundings, the campus itself is a national arboretum and features over 300 different species of trees and shrubs.
The Fugitives and Southern Agrarians were based at the university in the first half of the 20th century and helped revive Southern literature among others. The Jean and Alexander Heard Library, the campus library system, contains over 6.2 million items across nine libraries and stands as one of the nation's top research libraries. Vanderbilt Television News Archive holds the most extensive collection of television news coverage in the world, with over 40,000 hours of content. BioVU, Vanderbilt's DNA databank, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, running over 200 ongoing projects and holding over 225,000 samples. Additionally, Vanderbilt's Institute for Space and Defense Electronics, the largest of its type in the world, provides integral support to several companies, agencies, and governmental units, including Boeing, NASA, and the United States Department of Defense.
Vanderbilt has produced many distinguished alumni, including 21 current and former members of the United States Congress, 12 governors, seven billionaires, three Nobel Prize laureates, two Vice Presidents of the United States, and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Other notable alumni include Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy Award winners, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, heads of state and other leaders in foreign government, academics, musicians, professional athletes, and Olympians. Vanderbilt has more than 139,000 alumni, with 40 alumni clubs established worldwide.
Vanderbilt is a founding member of the Southeastern Conference and has been the conference's only private school for a half-century
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