College Halls | Blog

A Smooth Transition (Post by Brooke Thayer)

For those of you who lived in Warren and Moore last year, you likely know that it was a year of progress and refinement. For me, it was also a year of growth and learning, since it was my first year living and working in this community. As the only new Graduate Fellow last year, I was most definitely the new kid on the block. I had not been here to see the opening of Warren and Moore the previous year, and it took time to catch on to the way things operated and to truly start to understand the mission and purpose of this place. Fortunately, I had the support and guidance of a wonderful team of Faculty Directors, Graduate Fellows, and Area Coordinator who had been here from the beginning, in addition to our fabulous residents and Resident Assistants. Over the course of the year, I soaked up as much information and wisdom from them as I possibly could, and before I knew it the other three Graduate Fellows were graduating and our Area Coordinator was promoted to Assistant Director of Residential Education.

As I think back to last spring and the point in time when I realized how much change seemed to be approaching at Warren and Moore, I remember feeling both a sense of anxiety and excitement. Each year Warren and Moore seems to develop a little bit more and everything seems to go just a little bit smoother. Yet, with so many of the original staff members departing, I remember wondering whether we would lose some of our momentum and continuity – thankfully, I could not have been more wrong.

The first 6 weeks of this fall semester has proven that Warren and Moore is continuing to move forward full speed ahead, and may be doing so even more efficiently than ever before. We have been extremely fortunate to have some new staff members join our team. The three new Graduate Fellows – L, Laurel, and Valencia – have been absolutely phenomenal. They were so incredibly eager to learn and to get to work – in fact, they jumped right in and ran their first Warren and Moore event entirely on their own! They bring a range of unique experiences and valuable perspectives, and have already had a big impact. Jordan, our new Administrative Assistant, has also been a real lifesaver. He has become the link that connects the team and keeps us all moving in the same direction. Similarly, Courtney, our new Area Coordinator, and Chris, our new Graduate Area Coordinator, have not missed a beat and have wasted no time getting right to work. Our RA staff put together a great Courtyard Carnival and has been absolutely critical for introducing residents to Warren and Moore and fostering a strong sense of community. And props to all of our residents for attending and engaging in so many of our programs – if you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have never guessed that 55 people at a Moore College Sunday Dinner would ever happen!

Overall, the dynamic here at Warren and Moore thus far has been wonderful. Everywhere I go I see great programs and great residents engaging in those programs. Furthermore, everyone I speak with who has lived in Warren and Moore before seems to agree that this year feels a little different. So thank you to the entire Warren and Moore team and community for helping to shape with place – I’m looking forward to the rest of the year!

This blog post was written by Brooke Thayer, the Graduate Fellow of Smith Hall.  The opinions expressed herein are Brooke’s, and do not necessarily represent those of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on October 6, 2016 in News

Making Serendipity more Probable by Showing Up

Patricia’s Fresh Baked Fridays is a popular gathering for students, both inside and outside of WaM, and for staff too. Its a place to relax, talk to old friends, and to meet new people. Just two weeks ago, a vaguely familiar woman bounded towards me with a big smile, and introduced herself as one of my students more than 20 years ago. Her son, now a Warrenite, had brought her to FBF to see her old professor. What a treat! How cool is that! It is so moving too, at least for me.

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At FBF, I also learn about things going on around campus, usually sponsored by student orgs. I’ve written before about my visits to events around campus, and learning how involved WaM students often are (student-driven programming and Warren Envoys). At the Sept 9 FBF, I was talking to some students, and they excused themselves to help set up for an evening event at Wilson. It was a great event in which the local Muslim community thanked Nashville police, and they jointly celebrated community building and spoke on their work against terrorism.

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The week before, on Sept 2, I learned about the Wild Summer Open Mic night at the BCC, cosponsored by Vandy Spoken Word, Lambda, Hidden Dores, Delta Tau Delta and the Vanderbilt Review, to help us all to process the many violent events of the summer.

Warren College is defined and guided, in part, by the place of Warren students in the larger Vanderbilt community.

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Patricia and I are so lucky to live here. It is the only job in which I have to check my calendar to see whether I have something scheduled earlier than 8:00 am, or after 5:00 pm, so its work for sure, but the kind of work I wish others could experience, and would aspire to experience.

Elsewhere on the blog you will find other reflections during our brief history at WaM. You are welcome to contribute to those reflections on our past and thoughts about our future!

Doug Fisher is Faculty Director of Warren College. The opinions expressed herein are Doug’s, and are not necessarily the opinions of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on October 1, 2016 in News

WaM Hike to Cummins Falls: Post by Laurel Hogan

A few weeks ago, the students of Warren and Moore had the opportunity to go out and explore nature. On a trip to Cummins Falls for a hike, this was a chance for students to step away from Vanderbilt’s campus and the city of Nashville and enjoy some time outside.

Cummins Falls is a Tennessee State Park about an hour and a half drive east of the city of Nashville. The hike culminates in a gorgeous waterfall. The hike itself starts off dry, with a steep incline. However, once the trail levels off hikers are met with a new set of obstacles including water, slippery walking surfaces, and boulders to maneuver around.

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The attendees at this hike included 15 students from both the Warren and Moore College Halls, the four Graduate Fellows, and Dr. Fisher, the Faculty Director of Warren College. Everyone made it to and from the waterfall safely, with only a few unexpected tumbles into the water on the hike. There certainly were a few locations that were a lot slicker than expected!

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Once the group made it to the waterfall, there was time for everyone to explore the area. Students were told ahead of time that there would be an opportunity for them to swim and they came dressed for the occasion! Time was spent exploring the waterfall and enjoying the cool water on the hot September day!

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We hope that throughout the year we will have the opportunity to take more students to explore the parks around Nashville and take advantage of the great offerings around us here at Vanderbilt.

This was the first outing of the WaM Hiking Club!

This blog post was written by Laurel Hogan, the Graduate Fellow of Delbrück Hall.  The opinions expressed herein are Laurel’s, and do not necessarily represent those of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on September 30, 2016 in News

Bryan Stromer on Study Abroad

On September 14, Bryan Stromer joined us at Warren 503 to talk about his Study Abroad experience last year in Copenhagen. He brought two guests: Ruth Page, Program Coordinator from Vanderbilt’s Global Education Office, and Angela Best, Enrollment Services Manager at DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia.

We enjoyed Bryan’s presentation on his study in Copenhagen, and I reminisced (mostly silently) on my own visits there in the past — clearly, we had been to many of the same places! I was interested to learn that Vanderbilt’s study abroad programs, of which there are many, are often organized by Vanderbilt partner organizations like DIS. DIS is somewhat unusual among these partners, in that it offers its own courses and student support, rather than solely organizing through traditional universities abroad.

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Bryan enjoyed his experience and the support he received from DIS and from Vanderbilt. He was able to take courses that satisfied graduation requirements, including a lab course that he highlighted, and he was able to travel around Europe, meeting up with Vanderbilt friends who were studying elsewhere, and traveling with new friends.

Ruth and Angela left some materials on study abroad, so if you come by for Fresh Baked Fridays, have a seat on our couch and look through it. While I have done assessments of study abroad courses in computer science previously as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Computer Science, Bryan’s presentation gave me a new appreciation and excitement for study abroad.

Bryan’s presentation was the first of this year’s showcase of student expertise, experience, and expression (e³), which we began last semester. We’ll have more this year, and if you are interested in presenting to colleagues artistically, or on interesting educational and/or service experiences, let us know. We will set it up!

Doug Fisher is Faculty Director of Warren College. The opinions expressed herein are Doug’s, and are not necessarily the opinions of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on September 28, 2016 in News

“Retrieving Independence” with Service Dogs: Post by L Hildner

For the past three weekends our Faculty Director, Dr. Doug Fisher, has hosted community dinners in his apartment. All students are welcome to attend and are met with good conversation, good food, and a special guest. On September 11th students were greeted with by a wagging tail rather than a handshake. Our special guest that week, Dr. Brenda Dew, brought along one of her retired service dogs, Charlie.

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Dr. Dew spear heads an organization called “Retrieving Independence” which trains dogs to become service animals. Charlie, a retriever lab mix, had previously worked with a diabetic patient. He had been trained, through scent, on how to sense a dip or spike in blood sugar and was equipped with skills such a food and juice retrieval to provide aid to his patient. Dr. Dew shared his story with us as well as many other touching stories that have resulted from the Retrieving Independence program (

We learned about Charlie’s brother, Rex, who has been working with his patient for years. His patient suffers from extreme seizures. Rex has been trained on how to roll the patient over following a seizure, how to retrieve help, and how to bring the patient’s wife the medications and tools she may need to assist her husband. According to the patient, Rex saves his life everyday.

It is not just through medical service that these dogs provide aid. They are trained in a local prison by inmates. According to these individuals, these dogs have saved their lives as well. Dr. Dew read us a letter from an inmate who had trained a dog like Charlie. He explained that having this creature to be responsible for gave him great purpose. Additionally, he shared that these dogs have shown him what it means to selflessly love and care for another being. He explained that he regrets what he has taken from society but through this program he hopes to give back some good.

These dogs are truly amazing and their stories are even more impressive. See below for pictures of our night with Charlie and Dr. Dew and click here if you would like to learn more about Retrieving Independence or donate to their great cause!

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This blog post was written by L Hildner (the Graduate Fellow for Elliston Hall). She is a graduate student in Peabody College. The opinions expressed herein are L’s and are not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on September 24, 2016 in News

Sometimes you just need to go somewhere that feels like a home (Guest Post by L Hildner)

Sometimes you just need to go somewhere that feels like a home

These words, spoken by Warren Faculty director Dr. Doug Fisher, embody the aim of the Warren and Moore Community. Whether it be in the faculty director apartment, the Kissam Center, or the common areas throughout the halls, the College Halls strive to create a sense of home and community.

This year, Warren wanted to provide students the opportunity to showcase the ways in which they have made their own personal rooms reflect this homey atmosphere. Thus, Warren’s Tour of Rooms was created. The night before classes began, Warren residents volunteered to take us behind their doors to share how they have made their rooms “Dorm, Sweet Dorm.”

The Tour of Rooms began in the Warren Office Suite in order to introduce students to the offices of the Graduate Fellows and the Faculty Director. Attendees were met with a sampling of gourmet chocolate-covered pretzels. They were then given a cup to take around the tour to collect samples of unique chocolates stationed outside each participating room. These included mocha chocolate, chile chocolate, toffee chocolate, and more.

The halls were filled with sounds of chatter and laughter and an overall sense of community. Two tour attendees were so impressed and excited that they decided to add their room to the tour spontaneously by opening their door and placing a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses outside of it. It was great to see such levels of participation, excitement, and warmth among the residents.

This blog post was written by L Hildner (the Graduate Fellow for Elliston Hall). She is a graduate student in Peabody College. The opinions expressed herein are L’s and are not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University.


Posted by on September 8, 2016 in News

Welcome Back, Warren and Moore! (Guest post by Laurel Hogan)

The 2016-2017 academic year has started and our faculty and staff has been eager to get to know the residents of Warren College.  With over three hundred residents living in Warren College this year there certainly are a lot of people to get to know, but that’s part of the fun of living here!

In our first week, we have had several events to help our residents to get to know the Warren and Moore community.

On move in Sunday a Welcome Back Warren open house was held in Dr. Fisher’s apartment.  This was a chance for residents to stop in and say hello and check out the space where many more events will take place this year.  Moore College has a similar event, organized by Dr. Lovensheimer and the Moore Graduate Fellows – Brooke and Valencia.

Then, on Wednesday night we had a large scale event, an ‘orientation’ of sorts for the residents of both Warren and Moore Colleges.  After the first day of class, the faculty and staff also felt that it was important for our residents to get a crash course in who we are.  This was a chance for our residents to get a quick introduction to both faculty directors – Dr. Doug Fisher and Dr. Jim Lovensheimer; the four graduate fellows – Brooke, L, Laurel, and Valencia; the Area Coordinator, Courtney and the Graduate Area Coordinator, Chris; the College Halls admin assistant, Jordan; and the RAs.  Residents were expected to attend one of the two thirty minute sessions.  After the information session was over, students enjoyed a dessert spread provided by Vanderbilt Dining and mingled with their peers.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday night, Dr. Fisher, L, and I also made our rounds to all of the floor meetings being held in Delbrück and Elliston Halls.  This was our chance to interact with our residents in smaller settings and introduce them to what we do here in the College Halls system.  With this opportunity we reminded our residents that we are here to help put on the programs that they want to see (and have the budget to help make that happen!).  We hope that this is the start of a fantastic year with lots of resident participation in and interaction with the Warren community.

This blog post was written by Laurel Hogan, the Graduate Fellow of Delbrück Hall.  The opinions expressed herein are Laurel’s, and do not necessarily represent those of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on September 1, 2016 in News

Warren and Moore Environmental Series Dinner

On April 10 Warren and Moore hosted a dinner for students, faculty, and staff on sustainable food at Alumni Hall, in cooperation with SPEAR and ORBIS. Concerns with animal treatment and the environmental consequences of industrial meat production led us to an all vegetarian menu, the specifics of which were developed by Vanderbilt Dining. As always, the food was delicious — you can find the menu below.

In addition to WaM students, who made up the large majority of diners, and SPEAR and ORBIS members, representatives of the Vanderbilt Initiative for Vegetarian Awareness and Vanderbilt Food Justice were also in attendance. Faculty and staff environmental advocates in attendance were professors Beth Conklin (Anthropology), Teresa Goddu (English, American Studies), Zdravka Tzankova (Sociology), and Linda Breggin (Law, Environmental Law Institute); Andrea George (Director) and Chelsea Hamilton (Outreach) of SustainVU; Anna Guengerich (Anthropology); and Suzanne Herron, Sustainability Coordinator for Campus Dining.

About 30 minutes into dinner, I thanked everyone present on behalf of Warren and Moore, made introductions, then invited up Director of Dining, Chef Camp Howard. Camp gave his presentation on food service at Vanderbilt through the lens of environmental sustainability.  As an aside, Camp’s powerpoint presentation might not have happened without a very competent Moore student who was working the Alumni information desk earlier in the afternoon — she pulled together and set up the needed resources in time, despite my miscommunication to Student Centers regarding the needed equipment.

Camp addressed many topics, including energy use in Dining’s operations, recycling and composting practices, sourcing local foods, and challenges resulting from the “to-go preference” among many students. Regrettably, I sometimes succumb to the illusory convenience of the to-go option too. Q&A followed the talk. One question, perhaps rhetorical, but in any case very thought provoking, was whether Vanderbilt, as an institution of higher education that is dedicated to the future of its students, simply not accommodate the “to-go preference” of many students, and faculty/staff too!  As at the Commons, why not eliminate the to-go option campus wide? Why not? Or perhaps allow the only to-go option to be an innovative program, which Camp told us about, of reusable to-go containers. Dining had developed this with SPEAR a while back. The program is not active now because the Vanderbilt community didn’t embrace it, but what if it were the only to-go option, for the truly hurried?

The sustainable food dinner was the third in the Warren and Moore Environmental Series. Each semester, since Spring 2015 — a real tradition now! — WaM plans and (co-)sponsors an environmentally-themed event. Last semester (Fall 2015), WaM cosponsored a visit by and dinner with novelist Nathaniel Rich, and in Spring 2015, WaM inaugurated the series with a panel on the California water crisis, featuring Vanderbilt grad student Christopher Wold, and alum Dr. Debra Perrone, who participated by video conferencing from Stanford University.

The most recent event in the series was conceived when a Vanderbilt student wrote WaM leadership about the excess of waste, notably faux glassware (aka plastic), at our big October celebration in 2015 — waste that apparently was not being recycled. We took it seriously, and indeed, had a similar, but unexpressed, concern. Next year, I hope that we plan differently. More generally, we want to spend our dining budget ethically, and want to engage with the Vanderbilt community on what the ethical considerations should be. The dinner was intended to highlight the best of dining (small ‘d’) practices, with the menu and the service by our very own, and much loved, campus Dining.

The Menu

  • Grilled Spring Asparagus (vegan) with Watercress Green Goddess Dip
  • Chilled Sliced Radishes, Sprouts & Local Bibb Lettuce with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette (vegan)
  • Herbal Garden Potatoes, Baby Spinach & Lemon (vegan)
  • Seared Tofu, Roasted Red & Yellow Peppers with Caramelized Onion Jam (vegan)
  • Kale & Farro Pilaf With Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms & Fresh Ramps
  • Chickpea Casserole with Chervil, Shallots, & Parmesan Crust
  • Dinner Rolls & Butter
  • Lemon Spongettes with Fresh Picked Strawberries
  • Apple Crisp (vegan)
  • Iced Tea
  • Unbottled Water
  • Basic Linen White China, Glassware, Silverware

Doug Fisher is Faculty Director of Warren College. The opinions expressed herein are Doug’s, and are not necessarily the opinions of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on April 12, 2016 in News

Outdoor Recreation and WaM Hiking Club

Linda Rosenkranz, Director of Vanderbilt’s Outdoor Recreation Program, gave a presentation at WaM on March 30 about Outdoor Rec’s many activities and available resources. You can find her presentation slides, which are almost entirely trip pictures, in reduced-memory format, here. We are hoping to have her back at the start of Fall semester 2016, which is probably a more sensible time, and yearly after that.

Fig: a pic from one of Outdoor Rec’s many outings.

In high school I went backpacking frequently, and I went regularly while in college too. My favorite trips with friends in California, where I grew up, were San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (more often than Yosemite), Mt Whitney, and later in college, the Appalachian trail. After coming to Vanderbilt, I went on a few trips in Tennessee with Outdoor Rec (and Linda R), Patricia joined us on a back packing trip too.

Camping on the trail doesn’t appeal to everyone, or even most, but many more enjoy a good morning or midday hike, without the overnight obligation. And there are lots of good day trips, to include the necessary driving, within range of Vanderbilt. On April 23, I am signed up for one such day trip with Outdoor Rec to Short Springs State Natural Area. I know at least one WaM student will be coming.

I talked with Grad Fellow Grace Chee, also an enthusiastic outdoors person, about a hiking club that would include occasional backpacking. For trips that involve significant logistics (i.e., arranging for driving, food shopping, etc) we thought that piggybacking on Vanderbilt’s Outdoor Rec program was best. Their programs are popular, but would probably often have space for a small group of interested WaMers to join (through normal signup), without undue inconvenience to others. We even talked about picking up some, or all, of the modest fees for Outdoor Rec’s short trips for WaMers in the case where its a club-endorsed trip and a student had a tough time covering it.

In addition to piggybacking on Outdoor Rec programs, the WaM hiking club would operate separately for short trips to Radner Lake, Percy and Edwin Warner parks, even Montgomery Bell State Park (with lunch or dinner at the lodge there!) and some other nearby places.

So, if you are interested in short day hikes, and an occasional backpack trip, with others at WaM and Vanderbilt, let me know — I am ready to pick up the mantle on this, and Patricia always loves a restful hike too. As with other ideas that take shape towards the end of the year, I’ll send out a reminder in late summer or early fall.

Doug Fisher is the Faculty Director of Warren College. The opinions expressed here are Doug’s and not necessarily the opinions of Vanderbilt University.

Posted by on April 10, 2016 in News

Warren Envoys receive support for programs they care about

The Warren Envoys program is intended to encourage Warren students to represent Warren in events across campus, typically events that the students would actively participate in anyways. The emphasis here is on “across campus” programs, as opposed to Warren-funded (or WAM-funded) within-Warren (or within WAM) programs. There are plenty of support opportunities already for this latter class of programs.

Warren Envoys will contribute funds and/or services to events that

  • are open to all campus residents,
  • by any of the multitude of campus organizations, or selected unaffiliated events, and
  • include one or more Warren residents as members of the organizational team.

By virtue of Warren’s contributions, Warren will ideally become a co-sponsor of any such event, whether it occurs in the WaM vicinity or not, and whether or not Warren residents are a majority presence in the organization of the event. Even if Warren residents are not initially involved overtly in organization, we hope that they would become so by bringing Warren support to an event.

Why a Warren Envoys program, particularly when Warren (and Moore) residents, and many outside WaM, approach WaM leadership for co-sponsorship opportunities already? And we grant such co-sponsorship and will continue to do so.

In part its about acknowledging, embracing, and leveraging the reality of student driven programming that is pervasive at Vanderbilt, as well as the wonderful fact that our students organize many of these activities! While numbers of participants at programs are not the whole story of evaluation by a long shot, it nonetheless appears to be the case that these “outside” programs draw more absolute numbers of Warren students than some within-Warren events.

We don’t want Warren to compete with these other Warren-student organized events, or to have the appearance of competing with them. Rather, we want Warren to contribute to their success. By establishing Warren Envoys as a formal program, we hope to message to every Warren resident, particularly those not already plugged into Warren leadership, that Warren appreciates and supports outside-Warren programming, as well as inside-Warren programming, particularly when Warren students are active in the former.

Ideally, Warren Envoys will help create a Warren identity among participants in what would have been non-Warren programs, and increase Warren participation in the program through social networking and increased promotion.

Early in WaM’s life, it is, perhaps, not surprising that we were hyper-focused on building community within Warren and within WaM. Much of this inward focus can, will, and should remain (e.g., Warren e³, Moore’s Coffee and Conversations, Warren Film Series, game nights), but as I have reconnected with my Faculty-member-in-residence roots (i.e., at McGill, old Kissam, “old” North), where a residential faculty member is an ambassador of the entire faculty to the entire residential life of campus (as I defined it anyways), I’m committing more of my time of late to attending events across campus. And guess what I have seen first hand, which I only knew abstractly and didn’t grok before? There are tons of Warren and WaM students doing an extraordinary amount of planning and implementing of programs across this campus, “outside” of WaM. And when I go to their events, I feel good about supporting them!

In addition to Warren resident participation of events I wrote of earlier, over 50 students attended Hidden Dores Miniweek on March 29, with a majority of the speakers being Warren residents, as well as the moderator/organizer; I counted about 10 Warren students (of about 100-150 attendees) at the Climate Connection on March 29, entitled Black Lives Matter and Saving the Planet; and I counted another 14 Warren residents and alums (of almost 100 students) at VSW on April 1.

As a computer scientist, I am inclined to want to understand the dynamics of residential life holistically and beyond the anecdotal. We want to capture both the outward-Warren facing programs by our residents, who view Warren as a place to reenergize, and inward-Warren facing programs that help build a community capable of reenergizing its residents. Some of our residents are, no doubt, primarily outward facing, some primarily inward facing, but all are to varying extents between these.

To help quantitatively characterize the outward-facing programming of Warren students, I’ll ask those who participate in Warren Envoys to give an exact (through swipes) or approximate (through head counting, as I do) number of Warren attendees at these programs — no names, just numbers! Eventually, if we really want to maximize the number of students who are served, we will want to know who participates in outward facing programs, who participates in inward facing programs, and who is falling through the cracks.

Because we are rapidly approaching the end of the year, and our available budget is dwindling, this is likely a program that we won’t start up formally until next year, though I can point to examples where it is already happening at WaM, albeit ad hoc by those who are plugged into WaM leadership. We can do it better. For example, in the past we have, as a matter of policy, not promulgated non-WaM events in our newsletters and over our list serves. I expect the policy to remain the same, but under Warren Envoys, so much more will open up as Warren programming!

Doug Fisher is Faculty Director of Warren College. This post reflects Doug’s opinions and not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University. Thanks to Nick Dressler and Grace Chee for discussing this with me and helping me to refine the ideas.

Posted by on April 2, 2016 in News