People of the Provost Office
Susan Wente, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Provost Susan Wente earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. She was recruited to Vanderbilt in 2002 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Since then, she has served in a number of roles, most recently as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences. In July 2014, she was named Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Provost Wente runs an internationally respected research program that has made fundamental, groundbreaking discoveries in the mechanisms that control the selective, bidirectional exchange of proteins and RNA between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. She is also an esteemed educator, having mentored over 20 predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. Provost Wente has received a number of awards and honors, including a coveted NIH MERIT award. In 2010, she was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Most recently, Provost Wente was named one of Ten Women to Watch by Nashville Medical News.
Provost Wente resides in Nashville, TN with her husband, geneticist Chris Hardy, and their two daughters. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and traveling with her family.
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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.
Mark 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, Mark 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. Mark’s teaching and research interests include learning communities, American philosophy, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion.
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Senior Executive Secretary
Terrie Barrow is a Senior Executive Secretary 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.
Douglas L. Christiansen,
Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions
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. Dr. 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 Chair for the Board of Trustees of the College Board. In his role as vice provost, Dr. Christiansen serves as the university’s chief enrollment strategist, guiding the University Enrollment Affairs Leadership Team, which consists of 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, Student Accounts, the Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group (VIRG), the Career Center, and University Enrollment Affairs Strategy and Implementation. He also oversees the selection process for Chancellors, Cornelius Vanderbilt, POSSE, and QuestBridge scholars programs. Dr. 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 almost 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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Vice Provost for Academic and Strategic Affairs
John Geer is vice provost for academic and strategic affairs at Vanderbilt University. Geer is also Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and is co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll.
In his role as vice provost, Geer is responsible for developing, launching and helping to institute Vanderbilt’s academic strategic vision in alignment with the Academic Strategic Plan and assisting with fundraising initiatives to support related programs. As a member of the provost’s leadership team, he also works closely with the deans of each of the university’s colleges and schools on academic matters, including strategic faculty recruitment and retention.
Geer has taught political science at Vanderbilt since 1995. He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1986 and his bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 1980. He has published five books and more than 20 articles on presidential politics and elections, and has served as editor of The Journal of Politics (2005-2009). In 2015, the third edition of Gateways to Democracy will appear in print. An earlier book, In Defense of Negativity: Attacks Ads in Presidential Campaigns, won the Goldsmith Book prize from Harvard University in 2008. Geer has provided extensive commentary in the news media on politics, including live national interviews for FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, PBS, and NPR. Geer has also written op-ed pieces for Politico, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Chicago Tribune.
Geer’s teaching has earned him a number of awards at Vanderbilt, including the 2014 Vanderbilt Alumni Education Award, the 2009 Ellen Greg Ingalls Award for teaching excellence, the 2005 Jeffrey Nordhaus Award and the 2004 Birkby Prize.
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Richard J. Iannelli, Ph.D.
Interim 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. Richard 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, Richard has worked on all aspects of empirical decisions support, survey research, accreditation, enrollment management, modeling, and predictive analytics. Richard earned a PhD 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.
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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Senior Executive Secretary
Shirley Schettino is the Senior Executive Secretary in the Provost Office. In her role, she manages the Provost's calendar, briefings, and conference room, and is the first point of contact in the Provost Office.
Schettino joined Vanderbilt in 2013 as an Office Assistant to the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions. She later served as Assistant to the Associate Deans of the Library prior to joining the Provost Office.
Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Schettino served as Assistant to the Pastor at Our Lady of the Snow Roman Catholic Church in Blue Point, Long Island, New York where she prepared the yearly parish calendar, scheduled volunteer ministries, co-chaired the stewardship committee, wrote the weekly bulletin and served as the cantor and social events director.
Shirley is currently attending Trevecca Nazarene University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Relations.
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.
Kurt 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, Kurt began his career in finance and administration within the Center for Stem Cell Biology (part of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences). In 2013, Kurt 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, Kurt earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance and Management from the University of Evansville.
Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence
Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt is the vice provost for inclusive excellence at Vanderbilt University. In this role, she is responsible for helping to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in the trans-institutional research and educational missions of the university, building on the numerous efforts currently underway in the provost’s office and across academic affairs to create a welcoming environment for students, faculty and academic staff.
Thomas-Hunt comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she served as senior associate dean and global chief diversity officer. Thomas-Hunt received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University. Her research and teaching interests focus on conflict management, negotiation and inclusive leadership within global teams and organizations. She also has spent numerous years teaching negotiation to executives and served as faculty leader for The Women’s Leadership Program at Virginia’s Darden School. Her current research activities focus specifically on the effects of status and power on negotiation processes and outcomes and the evaluation and integration of expertise within diverse groups.