Melissa S. Gresalfi named Dean of Commons

Professor Gresalfi will be replacing the current Interim Dean, Professor Gregory Melchor-Barz

(Photo credit Vanderbilt University)

(Photo credit Vanderbilt University)

Philip Gubbins

After several months of searching, Vanderbilt named Melissa Gresalfi, an associate professor of mathematics education and learning sciences, the new Dean of Commons on March 13. Soon residing on Commons campus with her family, Professor Gresalfi will serve as the academic leader, mentor, and senior administrator of the first-year experience for the next five years.

“I’m really looking forward to starting,” Gresalfi said. “I have gotten to know such an amazing group of people, not to mention the commons staff, and I am really excited to join them.”

Faculty Head of Gillette House Frank Dobson said that he believes that Gresalfi is a good person for the job.

“She clearly has a heart for students and for helping to educate them and enrich their lives,” the Faculty Head of House for Gillette Frank Dobson said. “I am most excited about the new energy she will bring to the post.”

Gresalfi said she looks forward to learning more about the campus as a Dean. As a professor, she said you often don’t get to see the interesting things that go on outside of your department.

“I am really excited to learn more about the Visions program and the iSeminars,” she said. “There was this one immersion about hiking around some local Nashville areas, and looking through the lens of environmental science was really cool for me. I want to be a part of that immersion experience. That’s one of the things I am most excited to learn about.”

Gresalfi is involved in research, specifically in the areas of mathematical engagement and creating equitable participatory learning environments. She wants to bring to Commons what she has learned through her research.

“Failure happens all the time. Failure is really normal, sometimes students internalize failure as an indication of their own inability to succeed,” she said. “That is one of the things I know I can do, is to help people start to think about- think a little bit differently about what success looks like and how to interpret and think about failure.”

Importantly, Gresalfi is also bringing her springer spaniel, Toby, to the Dean of Commons residence.

“The dog is coming, he’s going to have the hardest transition of anyone in our family I think,” she said. “He has to be on a leash on Commons Lawn!”