Get to know Vanderbilt’s residential faculty: Professor Edwin Williamson

One of the special parts of student life at Vanderbilt is the university’s uniquely personal and collaborative residential college experience. Undergraduate houses and colleges are led by faculty who live in community with students.

Our faculty heads of house and their teams are excited to learn more about their new student residents! They’re starting by revealing some things about themselves in this special portrait series.

Edwin Williamson, faculty head of Hank Ingram House, and his family practice healthy behaviors and welcome the Class of 2024.
  • Name: Edwin Williamson
  • Faculty position: Assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences
  • Years at Vanderbilt: 10
  • Residential college: Hank Ingram House
  • Hometown: New York, New York
  • Favorite song: I am too much of a music lover to have a single favorite song, but I have a deep respect for the poetry of Bob Dylan and Kendrick Lamar, and I love Jerry Garcia on guitar.
  • Favorite book: Some of my favorites (all in the Hank Library, selected by our residents over the years) include: Native Son, A Prayer for Owen Meany and Americanah
  • Favorite food: La zi ji ding (from my time living in China)
  • Favorite spot on campus: The lawn in front of Hank!

Although this year will be extremely different than years past, what are you most looking forward to in the upcoming academic year? Every year is special, and this one will be too. Our family had some special moments together this spring, and I know our “Hank family” will come together in a unique and wonderful way during this COVID time.

Why do you value being a faculty head of house? Spending time with the students and talking about life and hopes and dreams. I learn a ton every year and have many memorable experiences hearing about what each student brings to Vanderbilt, and to Hank.

What advice do you have for new students coming to campus? Your love of learning is what will make these four years so formative—learning in and out of class, from professors and fellow students. The residential college experience is really about the melding of living and learning. And for returning students? Come back to Hank! I love visits from returning students to impart what they have learned and to give advice to our freshmen about what to expect and how to make the best use of your time on The Ingram Commons.

Tell us a funny or poignant experience you’ve had at Vanderbilt. Our first night in the faculty apartment, the doorbell went off at 5 a.m. I went to the door thinking, “Is this going to happen every night?” Standing in the doorway was a dripping-wet international student straight from Germany. She had missed her connecting flight and got a bus from Atlanta, switching buses in Chattanooga with all of her luggage in the middle of the night. When she got to campus, a security officer couldn’t get her into her own dorm, so he sent her to Hank, saying, “There is always someone up in Hank.” Being the biggest freshman dorm, filled with 300 amazing people, yes, there is always someone up to help!

Who do you mask up for? I think about our friends, families and neighbors in Nashville who are at increased risk from COVID, whether due to age, underlying conditions or structural circumstances. We mask up for others, not for ourselves!

Edwin Williamson, faculty head of Hank Ingram House, shows who he masks up for to Anchor Down and Step Up.