Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1873, the university is 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.
Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American businessman and philanthropist. He built his wealth in shipping and railroads, but lost it all in the Panic of 1873. He died worth less than
100 million, a fraction of his peak wealth.
Vanderbilt was born on May 27, 1794 in Staten Island, New York to Cornelius van Derbilt and Phebe Hand. His father had begun as a farmer and blacksmith, but then became a highwayman who was arrested for being a spy for the British during the American Revolution. After the war he opened a tavern near the ferry that ran between Staten Island and Manhattan.
In fact, Vanderbilt’s campus is located in the heart of Nashville’s cultural district. The campus consists of over 200 buildings spread across 265 acres (107 hectares). Notable buildings include Memorial Gymnasium (the largest gymnasium in the world), Kirkland Hall, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (a 592-bed hospital) and Montgomery Bell Academy. In addition to its undergraduate programs, Vanderbilt offers graduate degrees through its Medical School and School of Engineering, as well as professional degrees through its Owen Graduate School of Management. In 2008, Vanderbilt University Medical Center was ranked number one for patient satisfaction among all hospitals in the United States by Press Ganey Associates. In 2009 U.S. News & World Report named it one of America’s Best Hospitals for cancer care.