Associate Provost and Dean of Residential Faculty Shares the History and Vision of the Residential College System
During USAC’s November meeting, Vanessa Beasley shared the history and long-term vision of Vanderbilt’s residential college system. First introduced in the 2002 academic strategic plan, residential colleges are designed to foster community building, increase faculty engagement outside of the classroom, and inform students of—and connect them with—campus resources.
Drawing from Chancellor Nick Zeppos’ March 2018 op-ed piece on CNN.com about the benefits of the slow college movement, Beasley spoke at length about how residential colleges serve as a “third space” (i.e., the space between the residence hall room (‘first’ space) and classroom (‘second’ space)) where students, faculty, and staff can take part in planned activities and events, while also having room for “serendipitous” encounters to happen. To reach this goal, in addition to student rooms and faculty and staff apartments, each residential college includes dining facilities, study areas, social spaces, formal and informal outdoor green spaces, and other features designed to promote those moments of interaction.
Starting with The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons which opened in 2008, the residential college system has expanded and shaped the Vanderbilt and surrounding Nashville community over the last decade: Moore College and Warren College opened their doors in 2014 on the former site of Kissam Quadrangle and E. Bronson Ingram College opened in 2018 on the former site of Vanderbilt and Barnard halls. Construction is currently underway for the transformation of the West End Neighborhood with completion set for 2023, just in time for Vanderbilt’s 150th anniversary.
As Associate Provost and Dean of Residential Faculty, Beasley ensures that the programmatic vision of the residential college system aligns with university priorities and campus-wide initiatives; recruits, advises, and reviews residential faculty; promotes the academic mission of residential colleges; and advises campus planning on future designs of residential colleges. Looking ahead, Beasley is working with faculty, staff, and student colleagues to create a transformative experience for all members of the Vanderbilt community, not just those who live in the residential colleges that are currently standing, and invites you to reach out with any ideas for ways your unit, department, or you yourself can help in this endeavor.