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Vanessa Beasley, Dean of The Ingram Commons

“Here we will help you find, ask and work on the questions that matter to you. We will help you view these questions in new and different ways. We know that the questions that matter to our students are the questions we all need answered. Along with the exceptionally talented faculty and staff throughout the university, it is my privilege to welcome, challenge and equip the next generation of Vanderbilt students.” - Vanessa Beasley

Vanessa Beasley

Vanessa Beasley , an expert in race, gender and diversity in U.S. political rhetoric, has been named the next dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt University, effective July 1, 2015.  Beasley is an associate professor of communications studies and was named director of the Program in American Studies in 2013. She was appointed chair of the Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault in 2014.  Beasley is a Vanderbilt alumna, having earned her B.A. in speech communication and theatre arts in 1988. She earned her Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. She held positions at Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Georgia before joining the Department of Communication Studies at Vanderbilt in 2007. She served as director of the Program for Career Development for faculty in the College of Arts and Science from 2008 to 2012.  

Beasley was a Jacque Voegeli Fellow of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities from 2013 to 2014 and was the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Distinguished Service to Vanderbilt University in 2012. This May, she will lead a new  Maymester course  that she created in partnership with Queen’s University, Belfast, which will explore the comparative, transnational understanding of the civil rights movements in the southern United States and in Belfast in the 1950s and 1960s.

Beasley’s areas of expertise include the rhetoric of American presidents, political rhetoric on immigration, and media and politics.  She is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters and other publications and is the author of two books,  Who Belongs in America? Presidents, Rhetoric , and  Immigration  and  You, the People: American National Identity in Presidential Rhetoric, 1885-2000. 

Living in the  Dean's Residence, Beasley is joined by her husband Trey, assistant vice chancellor for treasury and university treasurer at Vanderbilt, and their two sons, Adam, 16, and Charlie, 12. Together, they host numerous events and "dinner conversations" that bring students together to meet faculty, authors, musicians, alumni, artists, entrepreneurs, physicians, scientists, public leaders, key university administrators, and many others.