Vassar Today

Roellke's Role Made Official

By Samantha Soper

This February, Associate Professor of Education Chris Roellke officially filled the position of Vassar’s Dean of the College. He accepted the acting dean role in July 2008 when J.J. Jackson left Vassar to become vice president for institutional diversity at the University of Kentucky. “Chris has been an outstanding member of the Vassar faculty since 1998 and is a highly respected scholar on the politics and economics of education, teacher education, and secondary school reform,” wrote President Catharine Hill in an email to the campus. “I am very pleased to be able to continue to work with Chris as a senior officer of the college.”

The Dean of the College is responsible for overseeing the operations of the college that affect the academic and residential lives of students, including the dean of studies, the dean of students, and offices that support student life and extracurricular activities. Roellke plans to build on the significant accomplishments of former Deans of the College Colton Johnson and Jackson. “Particularly exciting to me is the potential to play a central role in the college’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and access. I am also eager to enhance community-based and residentially centered learning opportunities at Vassar and believe that promoting faculty engagement is the key to being successful in these areas,” he says.

Roellke has served in numerous administrative capacities at Vassar, including chair of the Department of Education, Director of Academic Facilities Development, Director of the Ford Scholars Program, and Dean of Studies. He is also the founding director of the Vassar College Urban Education Initiative, an urban education outreach and professional development project funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Roellke earned his B.A. degree in political science from Wesleyan University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in educational administration from Cornell University.

Chris Roelle and Family
Chris Roelle and Family

The Roellke family — Kim (a local veterinarian); three daughters Emma (14), Julia (11), and Liv (4); and three dogs, Jeter, Keegan, and Gullaby — will be moving into Pratt House this summer. “Having the Dean of the College reside on campus is an important step in bridging the gap between the academic and residential lives of students at the college,” notes Roellke.