New opportunities to work with innovative artists and gain exposure to global perspectives will soon be available to students and faculty, thanks to a generous gift from current Vanderbilt parents Allison and Larry Berg. The landmark gift will establish the Berg Global Artist-in-Residence program to bring visiting artists to campus, as well as two Berg Dean’s Faculty Fellowships in the College of Arts and Sciences. Both efforts will be led by the College of Arts and Sciences and the office of Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, associate provost for arts and libraries.
The Berg family’s gift emphasizes the arts as a focal point of Dare to Grow, a $3.2 billion campaign that is the most ambitious fundraising effort in Vanderbilt history.
“We are deeply grateful for the visionary gift of Alison and Larry Berg, who emphasize the importance of the arts in higher education,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. “The arts are a core component of a liberal arts education and what it means to be human.”
In establishing the Berg Global Artist-in-Residence program, Vanderbilt will invite a high-impact visual artist to campus for an extended period during which they will immerse themselves in campus life. The Artist-in-Residence will help enrich programming and understanding of the arts by engaging with faculty, students, staff and community members through exhibitions, lectures, workshops, panel discussions, classes and critiques. The residency will be open to established and emerging visual artists of all media, backgrounds and nationalities.
“These visiting scholars will enhance artistic inquiry, encouraging experimentation, self-discovery and understanding of the human experience,” said K. Kibel Raver, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This generous gift supports the arts at Vanderbilt, facilitating broader advances in learning and discovery.”
The residency will be developed in close conjunction with the Berg Dean’s Faculty Fellowships, which will support two faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences with preference to those working in the visual arts in the Departments of Art, Art History and Architecture, and Film and Media arts as well as other humanities departments within the college. Dean’s Faculty Fellowships are critical in helping Vanderbilt recruit, retain and support rising faculty stars who in turn mentor and guide students in their educational and artistic journeys. Faculty selected for the Berg Dean’s Faculty Fellowships will also have a direct role in shaping the artist-in-residence program.
“The Berg family’s generous gift will enhance our support for outstanding junior faculty and help students become engaged, informed and curious citizens of the world,” said Timothy P. McNamara, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “As the most academically diverse school at Vanderbilt, the College of Arts and Sciences is well positioned to leverage these initiatives, strengthening dialogue and collaboration across a range of disciplines.”
Berg’s philanthropy and love of the arts positively impacted various organizations in their hometown of Los Angeles and beyond. Alison, a philanthropist, journalist and collector, has worked with several organizations, including her current service on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Error Room and Board of Directors at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Tate Americas, Día Art Foundation, Perez Art Museum Miami and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Larry is a senior partner at 26North and co-managing owner of Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). A former senior partner at Apollo Global Management, he served on the boards of McGraw-Hill Education, ABC Supply, AMC Entertainment, Inc., Berlitz International, Connections Academy, Goodman Global, Jacuzzi Brands, Laureate Education, Maxim Crane Works, Rexnord Corp, Sylvan Learning Systems and the University of Phoenix, as well as the LAFC Foundation and the Major League Soccer Board of Governors.
The Bergs were introduced to Vanderbilt when their son Zach enrolled in 2022. As they became more familiar with the campus, they decided to invest their philanthropic support in the university’s bold vision for the arts.
“We are continually amazed by Vanderbilt’s commitment to creating an educational environment that proactively nurtures the growth of holistic beings and encourages discovery and problem solving through dynamic collaboration. We hope that our gift, which focuses on supporting the interconnectedness between people and the understanding of diverse perspectives that emerge from art, will stimulate others to contribute to the robust vision behind Dare to Grow,” said Alison Berg.
To support the arts at Vanderbilt or learn more about the Dare to Grow campaign, visit vu.edu/daretogrow.