Vanderbilt University (informally Vandy or VU) is a private research university 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; 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 enrolls approximately 13,800 students from the US and over 100 foreign countries. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. Several research centers and institutes are affiliated with the university, including the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, the 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, 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.
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. Vanderbilt is a founding member of the Southeastern Conference and has been the conference’s only private school since 1966.
Vanderbilt alumni, faculty, and staff have included 54 current and former members of the United States Congress, 18 U.S. Ambassadors, 13 governors, 11 billionaires, seven Nobel Prize laureates, two Vice Presidents of the United States, and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Other notable alumni include three Pulitzer Prize winners, 27 Rhodes Scholars, two Academy Award winners, one Grammy Award winner, six MacArthur Fellows, four foreign heads of state, and five Olympic medallists. Vanderbilt has more than 145,000 alumni, with 40 alumni clubs established worldwide.