Nashville Public Television (NPT) and Vanderbilt University have entered into a new strategic partnership designed to develop, enrich and extend educational programs and services throughout the region.

As leading educational institutions with the common goal of serving the community, NPT and Vanderbilt will collaborate on designing and producing targeted programs and community outreach projects. The partnership will also create original documentaries that address the educational and cultural needs of the community-at-large. The initiative will create new opportunities for Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff to work with NPT professionals on research and training.

Through the partnership, two projects are now underway: 

NPT will produce, through grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the HCA Foundation, and the Nissan Foundation, a three-four year documentary series examining Nashville’s booming foreign-born population. Vanderbilt's Center for Nashville Studies will provide research assistance reaching immigrant and refugee groups, including Hispanics, Kurds and Somalis, and resources to better understand the issues they face in Nashville.

This will be spearheaded by sociology professor Dan Cornfield, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Nashville Studies and a former member of NPT’s Community Advisory Board, who has conducted extensive research on foreign-born populations in Nashville.

A second NPT documentary, funded in part by the Metro Arts Commission, will explore the contributions of the legendary Vanderbilt poets and critics – among them America’s first Poet Laureate Robert Penn Warren -- known as The Fugitives. An informal club of 16 Vanderbilt professors, students, and alumni, The Fugitives met often in Nashville between 1915 and 1928 to discuss and debate issues of the time. These meetings spurred the poetry, fiction, and essays that immortalized them.  

“The educational resources of Vanderbilt University will add considerable depth to our efforts to serve as the cultural curator of Middle Tennessee with programs that explore the unique history and attributes of this region,” said Beth Curley, president and CEO of NPT. “Working collaboratively, we will bring dynamic new programs to our loyal viewers while expanding NPT’s audience. Nashville Public Television is delighted to enter into partnership with Vanderbilt and appreciates the university’s willingness to engage with us in such a meaningful way for the benefit of our viewers.” 

Future initiatives between Vanderbilt and NPT will similarly tackle educational, cultural and social interests of the community. 
“One of our highest priorities is extending Vanderbilt’s intellectual resources to the entire region,” said Michael J. Schoenfeld, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for public affairs. “This partnership with NPT will help us share knowledge, discovery, arts and culture in new ways, to ever-growing audiences.”

Vanderbilt and NPT will utilize the latest technologies to expand programs and services throughout the region; jointly seek external funding for program initiatives while creating opportunities to broaden Vanderbilt’s and NPT’s intellectual and cultural resources and expertise to national and international audiences.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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