People of the Provost Office
Susan Wente, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Susan R. Wente is provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Vanderbilt University, where she oversees all academic programs and leads initiatives to advance the university’s mission. Since she became provost in 2014, Vanderbilt has ascended in the U.S. News & World Report rankings from #16 to #14 and has jumped from #20 to #10 within Reuter’s assessment of the World’s Most Innovative Universities. Drawing on her distinguished background in biomedical science, Wente combines her expertise in scholarship and research with an overarching vision that spotlights innovation, collaboration and discovery. As Vanderbilt’s first female provost, she is an advocate for women in science and the importance of equity and inclusion across all academic affairs.
Wente oversees faculty, staff, programming and initiatives for all 10 of Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges: the Blair School of Music, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Divinity School, the School of Engineering, the Graduate School, the Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management, Peabody College of education and human development, the School of Medicine – Basic Sciences, and the School of Nursing. In addition, she leads the areas of student affairs, housing, admissions and financial aid, fostering a dynamic student experience. Under Wente’s leadership, Vanderbilt was ranked No. 1 for financial aid and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review in 2018.
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Mark Bandas, Ph.D.
Associate Provost and Dean of Students
Mark Bandas is associate provost and dean of students. He graduated from Connecticut College, Magna Cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in philosophy. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt.
Bandas has administrative oversight for the offices of Housing and Residential Education; Student Activities and Events; Community Leadership and Intercultural Programs and Services; Health and Wellness; and Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. He also serves as a lecturer in philosophy for the College of Arts and Science and as a lecturer in higher education administration for the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.
He has held faculty and administrative positions at a number of institutions including the University of Richmond, Truman State University and Tennessee State University. Since 1999, Bandas has assisted in the planning and implementation of the College Halls program at Vanderbilt. The first phase of this program is the first-year student Commons, which opened in 2008. Bandas’s teaching and research interests include learning communities, American philosophy, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion.
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Terrie Barrow is a Executive Assistant in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Barrow came to Vanderbilt in 2008 as an Office Assistant in the Dean of Students office and held several positions within the department before joining the Provost’s office. She moved to the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center as an Administrative Assistant I in 2009, moved into an Administrative Assistant II role, supporting both the Women’s Center and the Office of LGBTQI Life in 2011 and, beginning in May of 2014, helped with the transition of Project Safe out of the Women’s Center into its own space, the Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response. She continued to support Project Safe and LGBTQI Life through March of 2016.
Barrow earned her bachelor’s degree in business and the social and behavioral sciences from Middle Tennessee State University.
Vanessa Beasley, Ph.D.
Associate Provost and Dean of Residential Faculty
Vanessa Beasley, a Vanderbilt University alumna and expert on the history of U.S. political rhetoric, is associate provost and dean of residential faculty and an associate professor of communications studies.
Beasley attended Vanderbilt as an undergraduate and earned a bachelor of arts in speech communication and theatre arts. She also holds a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Texas at Austin.
Following stints on the faculty of Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Georgia, she returned to Vanderbilt in 2007 as a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies. Active in the Vanderbilt community, she has served as chair of the Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault, director of the Program for Career Development for faculty in the College of Arts and Science, and as a Jacque Voegeli Fellow of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.
In May 2015, she led a new Maymester course she created in partnership with Queen’s University, Belfast that explored 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 academic 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.
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Douglas L. Christiansen,
Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
Douglas L. Christiansen holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration and is Vanderbilt University's vice provost for university enrollment affairs, and dean of admissions and financial aid. Christiansen is also an associate professor of public policy and higher education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt's Peabody College. Currently, he is serving as Past Chair for the Board of Trustees of the College Board.
In his role as vice provost, Christiansen serves as the university’s chief enrollment strategist, overseeing the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, Academic Affairs Process and Solution Implementations (PSI), University Registrar, Enrollment Management for Health Sciences Education, and University Enrollment Affairs Strategy and Implementation. He also guides the broader University Enrollment Affairs Leadership Team which in addition to the offices listed above includes the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group, the Career Center and Student Accounts.
He also oversees the selection process for Chancellors, Cornelius Vanderbilt, POSSE and QuestBridge scholars programs. Christiansen and his team have led the integration of enrollment and admissions systems across the university to integrate academic systems that support institutional enrollment goals at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. He has been in higher education and admissions for thirty years.
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Cynthia J. Cyrus,
Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs
Cynthia J. Cyrus is vice provost for learning and residential affairs at Vanderbilt University. Cyrus’ work focuses on the synergy between discovery and learning, and coordination across all years of the undergraduate residential experience as additional phases of faculty-led living and learning communities emerge.
Cyrus has served in the Office of the Provost since 2011. During that time, she led the university’s partnership with the online learning platform Coursera, where enrollments have recently passed the 800,000 mark, and launched the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL), which facilitates campus discussions of online and technologically facilitated learning, promotes research in these areas, and sustains Vanderbilt’s ongoing presence in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) environment. Cyrus also oversaw a revision of the Vanderbilt honor system and facilitated the development of a unified 10-school statement of the honor code. She was deeply involved in the planning and launch of Warren and Moore Colleges, in which she coordinated several committees of faculty, staff and students to establish the ideals of the residential colleges for returning students; hired the colleges’ new faculty directors; and selected the first cohort of student residents who will create the “engaged community” that is a hallmark of the program.
Cyrus joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1994 and currently is professor of musicology at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, where she also served as associate dean of the collegiate program from 2004-2010. She received her B.A. in music from Pomona College and a M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research addresses questions of literacy, particularly musical literacy, in late medieval and early modern Europe and the history of women’s monasticism. Recent books include The Scribes for Women’s Convents in Late Medieval Germany (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), and Received Medievalisms: A Cognitive Geography of Viennese Women’s Convents (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
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Tracey George, J.D.
Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Tracey George is the interim vice provost for faculty affairs at Vanderbilt University. George is also the Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Chair in Law and Liberty and holds a secondary appointment in political science.
As interim vice provost, her portfolio includes faculty hiring and retention authorizations, faculty appointments and promotions, faculty awards and honors, and endowed chair appointments. She works with academic leaders across campus to enhance Vanderbilt’s efforts to support faculty.
George teaches Contracts and Evidence in the law school, where she has earned the Hall-Hartman Teaching Prize eight times. In her scholarship, George brings a social science perspective to a range of topics, including judges and courts, judicial selection and elections, legal education and the legal profession, and contract law and theory. She has published numerous studies in which she examines how institutional design influences actions and outcomes in state and federal judicial systems. She is also a recognized expert on the study of legal education.
George received a J.D. from Stanford University Law School and an M.A. in political science from Washington University. She was a tenured professor at Northwestern before joining Vanderbilt in 2004.
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Richard J. Iannelli, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director of the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group
Richard J. Iannelli is the Interim Director of the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group, and the Senior Associate Director of Research and Analytics. Iannelli came to Vanderbilt in 1998 to attend the Vanderbilt/VAMC Medical Center professional psychology internship. Following this, he worked as a staff psychologist at the Vanderbilt Psychological and Counseling Center. In 2001 he moved into the Office of Special Projects within the Provost’s Office, and this office became the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group (VIRG). Within VIRG, Iannelli has worked on all aspects of empirical decisions support, survey research, accreditation, enrollment management, modeling, and predictive analytics. He earned a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, MA in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University, and his bachelor degree from the University of Mississippi.
Chief of Staff
Angela Land-Dedrick serves as Chief of Staff to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Land-Dedrick came to Vanderbilt in 1996 as an Assistant with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Brigid Hogan. Upon Dr. Susan Wente’s arrival to Vanderbilt in 2002, Land-Dedrick took the position of Assistant to the Chair in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. She was later promoted to Executive Assistant and then to Chief of Staff in 2014 when Wente assumed the role of Provost.
Land-Dedrick earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and art history from Sewanee: The University of the South.
Ifeoma Nwankwo, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships
Ifeoma Nwankwo is the associate provost for strategic initiatives and partnerships. In this role, Ifeoma works with colleagues in the Office of the Provost, deans and faculty in all schools and colleges, and other campus academic leaders to enhance the university’s efforts and outcomes in strategic initiatives, to engage the campus and Middle Tennessee communities and to advance academic partnerships that support the university's strategic mission.
Nwankwo is also associate professor of English and American Studies, immediate past Director of the Program in American Studies, and founding director of the Voices from Our America international public and digital humanities initiative.
Having joined Vanderbilt in 2006, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Nwankwo earned her Ph.D. in English from Duke University in 1999, with certificates in Latin American studies and African and African American studies. Her research centers on intercultural and intergenerational relations, particularly as they surface in the literary texts, oral narratives and popular music of Afro-descendants in the United States, Caribbean and Latin America. Her publications include Black Cosmopolitanism: Racial Consciousness and Transnational Identity in the Nineteenth-Century Americas; “Bilingualism, Blackness, and Belonging: The Racial and Generational Politics of Linguistic Transnationalism in Panama”; and “Race and Representation in the Digital Humanities: An Inter-American Case Study.” Her edited volumes include Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World(co-edited with Mamadou Diouf of Columbia University); African Routes, Caribbean Roots, Latino Lives; and, most recently, Globally Engaged Scholarship, Pedagogy, and Creative Practice, a special issue of Public: A Journal of Imagining America, co-edited with Jan Cohen Cruz and Jeff Hou.
Nwankwo directs Voices from Our America, an international project linking academic research, K-12 curriculum development and community engagement, and of The Wisdom of the Elders, a combination publicly-engaged research program and health study focused on revealing and recognizing older adults’ life- and soul-sustaining wisdoms and productively incorporating them into K-12, undergraduate, graduate and health professions education. She is the principal investigator and lead faculty member of the related Wisdom Working Group, a trans-institutional program.
Sally Parker, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost and Office of Cross College Initiatives
Sally Parker is assistant provost in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Prior to joining the university she worked at Hall Strategies, a strategic communications and public affairs firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, where she managed client accounts in industries ranging from automotive manufacturing to the life sciences. Formerly based in Tampa, Florida, she worked in strategic communications for Booz Allen Hamilton, where she served as senior editor of the Africa Defense Forum, a three-language publication produced on behalf of the United States Africa Command. Her work in consulting and public affairs began in Washington D.C. where she worked for Odell Simms and Associates, an international economic development firm and DCI Group, a public affairs and grassroots lobbying firm.
Parker served as visiting professor at the University of South Florida in the Department of Government and International Affairs from 2009 - 2010. She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University and her bachelor’s degree in political science and French from Belmont University.
Padma Raghavan, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Research
Padma Raghavan is vice provost for research and is responsible for advocating for an overseeing research across Vanderbilt’s ten schools and colleges. She is responsible for fostering a robust Vanderbilt research culture and increasing the visibility and recognition of Vanderbilt faculty. Raghavan also develops and provides stewardship for international research partnerships.
Raghavan joined Vanderbilt and the Provost team in February 2016. Her priorities include implementing trans-institutional strategies identified in the Academic Strategic Plan, working closely with academic deans and department chairs to advance the quality of the research enterprise, and developing strategies to enhance extramural support. She works closely with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support its continued strong affiliation with the university and to promote interdisciplinary initiatives, including those that enable major research funding opportunities.
Raghavan oversees the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the trans-institutional centers and institutes supported centrally by the Office of the Provost, the Office of Contract and Research Administration, and Global Support Services. She also coordinates oversight of animal care, human research protection programs and environmental health and safety with the Medical Center.
Raghavan is a distinguished researcher in high-performance computing and computational science and engineering and a proven academic research enterprise leader. She received her Ph.D. in computer science from Pennsylvania State University. Before returning to Penn State in August 2000, she served as an associate professor of computer science at the University of Tennessee and as a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Raghavan is a first-generation immigrant who came to the United States to pursue graduate studies in computer science. She is married to Steve Simpson, a mathematician.
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William Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives
William H. Robinson is the Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives and is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Vanderbilt University. In this role, he oversees the Office for Inclusive Excellence. He also works to advance the Provost's priorities focusing on faculty recruitment, retention, and development; student success; curriculum; and a culture of respect, dignity and care.
Robinson served on the Chancellor's Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community, and he was the recipient of a Chancellor's Award for Research on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in 2016 for his work to broaden minorities' participation in engineering, which has significantly informed the understanding of factors that often discourage Black scholars from pursuing academic careers.
Robinson joined the Vanderbilt University faculty as an assistant professor after earning a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
Robinson's research explores the hardware and software tradeoffs to improve system performance, system reliability, and system security. He leads the Security and Fault Tolerance Research Group at Vanderbilt, whose mission is to design, model, verify and implement robust computing systems that positively benefit stakeholders with consumer, defense, industrial and medical applications. He also co-leads the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative (EDEFI) (pronounced "edify"). EDEFI investigates the institutional, technical, social, and cultural factors that affect the decision-making, career choices, and career satisfaction for doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty who have been marginalized by race and/or gender.
Shirley Schettino is the Executive Assistant in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. In her role, she manages the Provost's calendar, briefings, and conference room, and is the first point of contact in the Provost’s Office, while also providing support to the Chief of Staff.
Schettino joined Vanderbilt University in 2013 as an Office Assistant to the Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions. She later served as Assistant to the Associate Deans of the Library and joined the Provost’s Office in 2014.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Schettino lived on Long Island, New York, where she served as Assistant to the Pastor at Our Lady of the Snow Roman Catholic Church in Blue Point, managing the parish calendars and composed the weekly news bulletin. Schettino also served as the social events director, co-chair of the stewardship committee, and as a cantor in the Music Ministry.
Schettino studied Human Services at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Kurt Shepherd, M.B.A.
Senior Finance Director
Kurt Shepherd is the Senior Finance Director overseeing Provost Central finances as well as the Chief Business Officers and Finance support personnel for all of the Vice Provost areas and the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management and the Divinity School.
Shepherd joined Vanderbilt in 2000 in Management Information Systems. He remained in MIS serving in multiple roles while completing his MBA at the Owen Graduate School of Management. Subsequent to earning his MBA, Shepherd began his career in finance and administration within the Center for Stem Cell Biology (part of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences). In 2013, Shepherd moved to University Enrollment Affairs as the Director of Administration and Finance where he remained until June of 2016 at which point he joined the Provost finance team. In addition to his MBA, Shepherd earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance and Management from the University of Evansville.
John Sloop, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Education Development and Technologies
John Sloop is the associate provost for education development and technologies at Vanderbilt University. Sloop is also a professor of communication studies in the College of Arts and Science.
As associate provost, he focuses on the development and implementation of school-based educational technology initiatives and the university’s overall exploration of digital learning. His responsibilities include supporting the digital goals outlined in the strategic plan, specifically facilitating education missions based on digital and online technologies and stewarding a continuing studies strategy. Sloop also oversees the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL), and provides oversight of campus partnerships and experimentation with Coursera, 2U and other digital platforms. During the 2017-18 academic year, Sloop chaired a committee that outlined a strategy to provide microcredentials for digital literacies on campus and is leading a project to increase student use of this creative software.
He continues to teach and conduct research. Sloop's work explores the rhetoric of mass media and popular culture as well as mass media production and consumption. His recent research has addressed issues of gender, immigration, citizenship and mediation.
Sloop joined the university faculty in 1995 as assistant professor of communication studies and was promoted to professor in 2000. He served during the 2014-15 academic year as the interim dean of the College of Arts and Science. He previously served for four years as senior associate dean for undergraduate education and three years as senior associate dean for faculty in the College of Arts and Science. He also participated as a member in the executive committee of the Academic Strategic Plan and co-chaired the Chancellor’s Committee on Social Media and the Internet.
Dawn Turton, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives
Dawn Turton is the associate provost for academic initiatives at Vanderbilt University. As associate provost, she oversees a set of offices and resources that support faculty and students including the Career Center, Pre-professional Advising, the Wond’ry, the Global Education Office, and the University Press. Turton is also responsible for working with schools and partners across campus to implement Immersion Vanderbilt in coordination with the Office of Immersion Resources. She also serves as the institutional accreditation liaison to SACSCOC and is the compliance lead for academic affairs.
Prior to joining the Provost’s Office in 2010, she served as the Executive Director of the Vanderbilt International Office and Director of the English Language Center. She received a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Ohio University and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Southern California.
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