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    SECU Q&A Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos

    By: Sean Cartell
    SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference will host its inaugural SEC Symposium, entitled “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future,” Feb. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

    The SEC Symposium is the brainchild of Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, Vice President of the SEC’s Executive Committee and liaison to SECU, the academic initiative of the SEC.

    Zeppos recently sat down with SECU to discuss his thoughts on and vision for the SEC Symposium and SECU.  

    SECU: What was your inspiration for the idea of the SEC Symposium and why did you feel it would be a beneficial endeavor for the SEC?

    Nicholas Zeppos: “The member institutions of the Southeastern Conference are committed to a shared mission of fostering research, scholarship, and achievement. The SEC Symposium represents a platform to connect, collaborate and promote a productive dialogue that will span disciplinary and institutional boundaries and allow us to work together for the betterment of society.”

    SECU: What is your vision for the SEC Symposium moving forward and how do you hope it will develop over time?

    Nicholas Zeppos: “The road ahead for the SEC Symposium is bright and promising. It is transformative to bring together the best and brightest minds from our member institutions to engage in intellectual discourse and critical thinking. Through this collaborative effort, we can concentrate on fundamental issues and connect ideas with solutions to provide answers to the fundamental challenges facing our world.”

    SECU: How does this year’s topic of renewable energy fit your vision for the SEC Symposium and why is it a good topic for the 14 schools of the SEC to discuss?

    Nicholas Zeppos: “Increasing awareness, examining and exploring renewable energy sources are vital to the future of our nation and our globe. Limited natural resources present a tremendous challenge to our ability to maintain scientific, social and economic productivity. If we do not address the challenges now and look toward alternate solutions and sources, the very mission that defines us as institutions of inquiry and discovery is made vulnerable, and the future of the American university could be significantly impacted.”

    SECU: Why did the SEC Presidents and Chancellors think it was important to bring SECU (then the SEC Academic Consortium) under the SEC office umbrella and what was the vision for closely uniting the two entities?

    Nicholas Zeppos: “Creating a synthesis between our missions as an athletic conference and as a collaborative academic body demonstrates our dedication to tending to the fundamental areas of growth in mind, body and spirit for the SEC institutions’ students, faculty and administrators. By uniting the SEC and SECU under one umbrella, it allows us to broaden our impact of providing support and recognizing achievement, and offering transformative learning opportunities.”

    SECU: How important and unique is it that the Southeastern Conference, which many people know for its athletic prowess, establishes a presence on the academic side of its member institutions with initiatives like SECU and the SEC Symposium?

    Nicholas Zeppos: “It is vitally important that we invest in all areas and across all boundaries. In creating opportunities for learning and discovery and erasing any barriers that exist between athletics and academics, we have formed a powerful coalition that is truly making a difference in the lives of our university communities and beyond.”