Meet the five new faculty heads leading Vanderbilt residential houses and colleges

Three Commons houses—Hank Ingram, West and Gillette —along with Warren College and E. Bronson Ingram College welcome new residential faculty heads for the 2020-21 year.

warren+college+sign

Emery Little

Warren College, as photographed on May 17, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Aaditi Lele

Five of Vanderbilt’s residential houses and colleges are joined by new faculty heads for the 2020-21 school year. These faculty members will lead three Commons houses— Hank Ingram House, West House and Gillette House—along with two residential colleges—Warren College and E. Bronson Ingram College.

Joining the residential faculty

While each of the five new faculty members joined their residential houses and colleges this year, they cited different factors that drew them to the role. 

carol ziegler and her family on the steps of west house
Dr. Carol Ziegler, new faculty head of Gillette House, with her family and pet lizard outside Gillette House. (Vanderbilt University)

“I was very good friends and colleagues with Frank Dobson, the previous faculty head of Gillette House and he would always invite me to these faculty dinners,” Dr. Carol Ziegler, faculty head of Gillette House, said. “In conversation with groups of ten or 12 students, they would give me new ideas [about campus life].”

Ziegler is a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and a nurse practitioner at Meharry Medical College. She currently researches issues of heat mitigation and climate justice.

teresa goddu and her husband sitting outside EBI
Dr. Teresa Goddu and her husband in front of E. Bronson Ingram College. (Vanderbilt University)

Dr. Teresa Goddu, new faculty head of E. Bronson Ingram College and a professor of English and American studies, joined the residential faculty with residential student experiences of her own. 

“My own undergraduate experience at Yale, which has one of the oldest residential college systems in the U.S., was profoundly shaped by living in a residential college. So much of what I learned happened outside of the classroom within my college community. It was also where I forged friendships that have lasted a lifetime,” Goddu said. “Hence, when Vanderbilt inaugurated its own version, I knew that I wanted to be involved.”

Designing residential communities

As they begin their new residential roles, each of the faculty heads expressed their visions for the communities they hope to build in their respective halls. 

“My biggest goal is really just to make sure that the students are making connections with each other and that they feel connected to me,” Ziegler said. “It’s those little interactions that kind of build that sense of community.”

Goddu expressed the same, adding that community also comes with a collaborative component. 

“Building community is a collaborative activity which I will invite all Bronson residents to participate in,” Goddu added. “My role will be to encourage residents to share their gifts and talents with each other and to help them form a warm and supportive community that we will all call home.” 

amy johnson
Dr. Amy Johnson, faculty head of Warren College. (Vanderbilt University)

Dr. Amy Johnson, faculty head of Warren College and the newly appointed assistant provost for immersion and experiential learning, explained that she sees her role as being an informal mentor and confidant.

“Having a family in residence with students models something that is beyond the academic rigor of college life, that reminds you of what you’re doing this for and keeps you grounded,” Johnson said.

As assistant provost, Johnson said that being embedded in residential life will help her suggest administrative choices that better reflect students’ needs and wants. 

“I think this will give me the opportunity to see them as whole students in a different context out of the classroom,” Johnson said. “It will bring a new perspective to institutional policies at a higher level.”

House events

For the new faculty heads of houses on Commons, planning monthly house events is a critical part of their new roles. Dr. Emily Pendergrass, new faculty head of West House and associate professor of literacy and director of reading education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, intends to use her monthly house events to engage in community service.

elizabeth pendergrass sitting with her dog and daughter in rocking chairs outside West House
Dr. Emily Pendergrass, her daughter and her dog outside West House. (Vanderbilt University)

“I love to do service in the community, so I hope that we get the Service Coordinator through the House Programming [and Advisory] Council to really dive in and do different service projects out in the community so that we can serve and get back to Nashville,” Pendergrass said. “I’m hoping that we can plant a lot of seeds as they think about ways to interact with our community and the Nashville community, too.”

Ziegler hopes to invite Nashville leaders to her monthly house dinners. 

“There is a big gap between academics and practice [and] hosting these conversations can make sure that that gap has been closed,” Ziegler said.

Dr. Eric Barth, faculty head of Hank Ingram House and professor of mechanical engineering, hopes to use his monthly house events to guide students through their paths in college and beyond.

Dr. Eric Barth and his family standing outside the front of Hank Ingram House
Dr. Eric Barth and his family at Hank Ingram House. (Vanderbilt University)

“With the monthly events, I’m going to [invite] different folks that are in different disciplines and that hold a variety of different jobs,” Barth said. “I’m hoping that most of those conversations give people the information that the path is always different for each person to get to that dream job or that dream career you’re passionate about.”

When asked what they hope their residents know about them, each of the faculty heads responded that they hope students learn that their faculty heads are approachable and open. 

“I hope that from me, residents get the sense that professors want to talk to students,” Barth said. 

More importantly, the new faculty heads all expressed excitement to introduce their three cats, two dogs, a lizard and other furry friends to their house communities. At one of West House’s initial signature events, residents already had the opportunity to meet Pendergrass’s dog Scooter, an English Springer Spaniel. 

“We had a meet and greet with my dog so that everybody could meet him,” Pendergrass said.