Married professors talk quality time, modern marriage at Vanderbilt

Love is in the air at Vanderbilt, even amongst our professors. We spoke with Igo and Molvig and the Rafters to learn more about what it’s like to mix work and married life on campus.

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The Rafters enjoy traveling together during summer breaks from Vanderbilt. Photo courtesy Lori Rafter

Christine Moser and Eva Pace

This time of year, romance is all over Vanderbilt’s campus. Everywhere you look, students are either holding hands or engaging in unabashed PDA in the 2301 line. In short— everyone’s cuffed. But amidst all of the date parties, flirty study meetups and romantic Rand dates, there is a whole other world of romance on Vanderbilt’s campus amongst our very own professors. What is it like spending every day with your spouse in the workplace, surrounded by chaotic college students? We reached out to professors Sarah Igo and Ole Molvig as well as Lori and John Rafter to find out more about this other world of romance at Vanderbilt.

 

Sarah Igo and Ole Molvig

This pair is well accustomed to being with each other in academia, meeting in graduate school at Princeton University in their twenties. Both were PHD students in the history department, but Molvig was a couple years behind Igo. 

According to Igo, coming to Vanderbilt and working together was a huge step in their relationship. The pair used to commute to work and essentially only see each other on the weekends, but after Vandy hired them both, every day became a day spent together. Both live together in E. Bronson, where Igo currently serves as Faculty Head. 

Sarah Igo and Ole Molvig spend quality time together off campus. Photo courtesy Sarah Igo

“When we first moved here, I suddenly would run into him when I did not expect to, which was surprising because I always planned when I would see him before,” Igo said. “We live in E. Bronson now, so we are together quite a bit.”

Igo shared that she loves working with her husband because, while they both are technically specialized in different areas, they are able to work together on certain projects such as advising graduate students. With that being said, these overlaps can sometimes conflict with each other. 

“By the nature of our work, I work on privacy, and he works on it too. We share a lot of common colleagues, all of it makes for pretty interesting conversations around the dining table,” Igo said. 

Frequently, Igo and Molvig will grab lunch together between classes or department meetings, emulating the “Rand dates” of so many Vandy student couples. Ultimately, even apart from Molvig’s “brilliant sense of humor,” having a shared passion for educating students creates a bond for the duo that is difficult to break. 

 

The Rafters

The Rafters have come full circle in their professional careers, now working together in the Math department after meeting at Vanderbilt’s graduate school. Both Lori and John agree that there are a lot of special qualities to Vanderbilt that made them want to keep the institution in their life. 

“I have found that Vanderbilt has the brightest students and most interested students that I have ever taught, and there are great opportunities to see anything from art shows to political figures,” Lori said. 

With that being said, the Rafters don’t have the overlapping schedule that Igo and Molvig experience working together. 

“We only see each other a couple times a day really, and never for long because our classes are at different times. Once a week or so we will have lunch together,” Lori said. 

Just like students, professors appreciate vacations from their chaotic work schedule. The Rafters enjoy the shared summer breaks that are unique to their profession, recounting how when their daughter was growing up, it allowed them to enjoy many trips and bond as a family. According to the two, Lori brings the humor while John brings the brains to their couple dynamic. 

“I worked ten years in the industrial world, and it was so different, work never ended,” John said. “I really appreciate the freedom with the academic schedule to spend time together.” 

The saying goes that mixing work and family is never a good idea, but both Igo and Molvig and the Rafters refute that claim. This Valentine’s Day weekend, we can look up to these successful power couples for hope that in the dark abyss of college relationships, sometimes it really can work out.