Get to know Vanderbilt’s residential faculty: Professor Rosevelt Noble

*Prof. Noble is a former faculty head of house*

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.

Stambaugh Faculty Head of House Rosevelt Noble and his family: wife, Kristin, daughter, Jordan, and son, Rosevelt III.
  • Name: Rosevelt L. Noble
  • Faculty position: Senior lecturer in sociology, director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
  • Years at Vanderbilt: 26 (including undergrad through present)
  • Hometown: Kankakee, Illinois
  • Residential college: Stambaugh House
  • Favorite song: ”I Was Here” by Beyoncé
  • Favorite book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Favorite food: Cheesecake
  • Favorite spot on campus: The patio outside of the Black Cultural Center

Although this year will be extremely different than years past, what are you most looking forward to in the upcoming academic year? I am most looking forward to meeting the challenge of helping our students to make connections with me, each other, and our greater Vanderbilt community, despite the changes created by COVID-19. This is a new opportunity to think outside the box and be creative.

Why do you value being a faculty head of house, or what do you love about the residential college experience? What I love about being a FHOH, in particular on The Commons, is the opportunity to have a lasting impact on the collegiate experience of students from all over the world. I have found that students are most impressionable when they first arrive to campus. Thus, the ability to start with a blank canvas and influence or contribute to the “Vanderbilt picture” that they create is tremendously rewarding.

What advice do you have for new students coming to campus as well as returning students? For both populations I would say, don’t focus on the things you can’t do or the ways in which things seem different. Instead, enjoy the moment and find ways to celebrate and appreciate what you can do, the connections you can make, and the experiences you can have.

Tell us a funny or poignant experience you’ve had at Vanderbilt. One of my favorite Vanderbilt memories happened in the context of a tour that I took my students on as part of my Prison Life class. We were visiting a prison facility and the tour guide took us in the gymnasium area where a group of inmates, who were part of a prison band, were playing music. Just as we walked in, they were playing the instrumental to one of my favorite and most personal songs. It was “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. That’s one of my favorite songs because it always reminds me of my late grandmother. For some reason, without hesitation, once I recognized the song, I went to the mic that was on a stand in front of the band and started singing the song. As if that wasn’t strange enough, three of the students who also knew the song started singing backup! The band played louder and the whole class got into it! We had an impromptu jam session/concert that was truly magical right there in the middle of a gym at a prison. Students still talk about that moment when I see them as alumni.

Who do you step up and mask up for? I step up and mask up for my family and all of those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Faculty Head of House Rosevelt Noble and his family practice healthy behaviors as they welcome first-year students to Stambaugh House.