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Faculty Heads of House

faculty heads of houses


Faculty living on The Ingram Commons with students is vital to the academic strategy of Vanderbilt University. “Faculty Head of House” is a faculty rank and a distinction for a Vanderbilt faculty member. There are ten Faculty Heads. They were selected after a rigorous interview process from over 30 applicants. They represent all four undergraduate schools (A&S, Blair, Peabody, and Engineering) and one professional school, Divinity. They are noted researchers, scholars, writers, and award-winning teachers. They are real people with diverse backgrounds, interests, experiences, and professional accomplishments.

The Role of Faculty Head of House

Ten Faculty Heads of House live year-round on The Ingram Commons in apartments located in each House. Some of the Faculty Heads are single, others live with their spouses, partners, and families, including young children, teenagers, and family members. They continue to teach classes and do their research and administrative work. They also are present in the House as its faculty mentor, role model, and guide who shapes the living and learning community of the House. They oversee a programming budget and work closely with the Resident Advisers, the elected officers of the House Advisory Council, and other residents of the House to create innovative, challenging, provocative, and fun programs that enrich the educational experience of each House and The Ingram Commons as a whole. They are not house parents, dorm moms and dads, faculty advisors, or faculty in residence. They are Faculty Heads of House and are among the university’s most dynamic individuals.

 Faculty Heads of House

Robert BarskyRobert Barsky, professor of French and Italian with a joint appointment to the Department of English, is the faculty head of West House. An eminent member of the humanities division of the College of Arts and Science, Barsky teaches literature and works in immigration studies, linguistics and radicalism in American Jewish life. He is also founder and editor of AmeriQuests, a peer-reviewed e-journal devoted to writing and research about real and metaphorical quests toward “America.” Barsky was given the 2011 Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award, and was recently named to the Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse, for 2012-2013. He is joined in West House by his wife Marsha, a dancer and Yogini, as well as their cats, and will enjoy occasional visits from their three college-aged sons, Kai, Tristan and Benjamin.


Greg Barz Greg Barz, faculty head of North House, is an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the Blair School of Music, with joint appointments in anthropology and the Divinity School. He recently drew on his fieldwork in East Africa to produce a Grammy-nominated recording of the music of HIVpositive women's groups with his research supported by the Fulbright African AIDS Research Program. Professor Barz also recently completed a documentary film on the role of music in post-Genocide Rwanda, and he continues his field research on the role of hip hop and HIV/AIDS in South Africa and Lesotho.


Roger ConeRoger Cone is the faculty head of Murray House Cone’s impressive scholarly and professional presence speaks for itself: he holds the Joe C. Davis Chair in Biomedical Science, he is chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Obesity and Metabolism, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He holds 17 patents, and has also served as an elected public school board official. Cone will be joined in Murray House by his wife, Midge, and their son, David, and will be visited by daughters Miriam and Anna.


Frank Dobson Frank Dobson, faculty head of Gillette House, is director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center and one of the most influential administrators and mentors to be found in the Vanderbilt undergraduate community. His second novel, Rendered Invisible, was published in 2010. He has published both scholarly and creative work; his recent article, "Beyond Black Men as Breeders: White Men and the Commodity of Blackness," appeared in the Vanderbilt University journal, Ameriquests (Vol. 6, No. 1). Dobson, who also teaches at Fisk University, is a playwright whose work has been presented nationally. He is currently at work on a screenplay.


Cynthia GaddCynthia Gadd is the faculty head of East House, and is Professor and Director of Educational Programs in Biomedical Informatics. Gadd’s research interests include the development and evaluation of innovative approaches for biomedical informatics education and training to meet the needs of health care in the United States and globally. She also brings a great deal of experience mentoring students from high school to graduate levels. Her husband, Dave, is a local coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. They will be joined in East House by their dog, Fanny, and cat, Angus. Sons Jordan and Eli, a college undergraduate, also will visit.


Chalene Helmuth Chalene Helmuth, faculty head of Sutherland House, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Originally from Costa Rica, she is the author of two books on contemporary Latin American literature and culture. She has designed study abroad programs in several Latin American countries, emphasizing service-learning and internship opportunities. Professor Helmuth serves as faculty director of Costa Rica VISAGE (Vanderbilt Initiative for Scholarship and Global Engagement), an innovative program that is open to first-year students. She also supervises and trains graduate students in Spanish-language instruction.


Kevin LeanderKevin Leander is the faculty head of Memorial House. Leander is from the Department of Teaching and Learning at Peabody College. His research interests fit perfectly with The Ingram Commons: social media, youth identities, informal education, learning communities and new geographies of learning. On campus, Leander has served on the American Studies Advisory Board, the Writing Studio Advisory Board, is former chair of the Vanderbilt Student Communications Board of Directors, a faculty VUceptor, and is well known on campus as an excellent classroom instructor and undergraduate mentor. Leander will reside in Memorial with his three children, Elena, Jackie and Mitchell.


Paul Lim

Paul Lim, faculty head of Crawford House, teaches in the Divinity School and is an emerging authority on the theology and history of seventeenth-century English Protestantism. He has recently completed his second major book, Mystery Unveiled: The Crisis of the Trinity in Early Modern England (2012), a work supported by grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and Vanderbilt University Research Scholars Grants. His experience of residential colleges, much similar to that of The Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt, comes from his undergraduate education at Yale (B.A.) and his graduate work at Cambridge (Ph.D.).


Alice Randall Alice Randall is the faculty head of Stambaugh House. A Vanderbilt Writer-in-Residence, Alice Randall brings the outline for her fifth novel (following The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada's Rules) as well as her experience examining nontraditional texts—song lyrics, cookbooks, children's pageant scripts—as literature. The courses Randall teaches include "Country Lyric in American Culture" and "Soul Food, in text, as text." Students in Stambaugh should anticipate live country music, healthy soul food, and a thorough introduction to the history of Nashville. Her husband, David Ewing (Vanderbilt Law School 1992), is a ninth generation Nashvillian. Randall’s daughter, Caroline, a graduate student working on her MFA, will also be in residence on breaks.


Dr. Kyla Terhune Kyla Terhune, faculty head of Hank Ingram House, is an assistant professor of surgery and anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the associate program director of the general surgery residency program. In addition to the clinical responsibilities of being a general surgeon, Dr. Terhune serves as associate program director for the general surgery residency. She has won teaching awards from medical students, surgery residents, and at the national level. Prior to attending medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, she taught and coached at St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware. She is joined by her husband, Rick Keuler, and their children.