Main Flower

Mission and Goals

CLIR and Vanderbilt University created the Committee on Coherence at Scale to foster strategic thinking about how to more rigorously manage the transition from analog to digital in higher education. The Committee aims to ensure the programmatic, concerted, and efficient development of large-scale projects that, if built as coherent elements of an emerging digital environment, will significantly enhance scholarly productivity and enrich teaching. The Committee will produce a blueprint for this new environment that is cost effective and sustainable by focusing on the following activities: research and analysis of key large projects and the technology requisite for their correlation; business plans necessary for a coherent, sustainable digital ecology of enormous scale in service to education and the public good; and return on investment, that is, the benefits and transformational aspects of such an undertaking.


The Committee on Coherence at Scale was formed in October 2012 to examine emerging national-scale digital projects and their potential to help transform higher education in terms of scholarly productivity, teaching, cost-efficiency, and sustainability. The committee members include college and university presidents and provosts, deans, university librarians, and association heads. The first committee meeting took place in March 2013, and will continue to meet semi-annually each fall and spring. The Steering Committee, established at the April 2014 Committee on Coherence at Scale meeting, is charged with promulgating the group’s work, ensuring that the project advances in a strategic and productive way, and helping set meeting agendas.

Sunflower Symbol

The floral head (inflorescence) of the sunflower was selected to symbolize themes and principles that inform the Committee on Coherence. The radiant outer petals are interconnected and create a dynamic boundary that is both structural and animated. The inner pad produces the sunflower seeds arranged in exquisite mathematical order. The pattern of the florets form a Fermat spiral; the angle of the seeds conform to Fibonacci numbers, closely packed but radiating within a complex symmetry. A close look at this flower we so often admire from a distance reveals a rigorously designed interior that adheres to strict mathematic formula enclosed by a beautiful boundary of variegated but interrelated parts—an enchanting coherence.