Chalene Helmuth, principal senior lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese and affiliated faculty for the Center for Latin American Studies and American studies, has received the 2021–22 K.C. Potter Outstanding Service to Students Award, given by the Office of the Dean of Students to a faculty member who provides outstanding service consistently to individual students or student groups through personal advising, development of programs, or improvements to university systems and policies that affect students.
Helmuth serves as the faculty head of Sutherland House on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, where she engages residents in stimulating discussions about identity, culture and language as they consider how best to navigate the university experience.
The annual DOS Awards Ceremony was held April 19, during which Helmuth was recognized for her service to the first-year student experience. K.C. Potter, Vanderbilt’s long-serving dean of residential and judicial affairs, retired in 1998 after 36 years at the university as both a student and administrator. Potter cared deeply for all Vanderbilt students, particularly marginalized students.
Helmuth is a founding member of The Ingram Commons and has served as the Sutherland House faculty head since 2007. With this being her last year serving as a faculty head of house, the DOS division recognized the vital role she has played in carrying out the academic strategic plan of Vanderbilt University. Helmuth has been present in Sutherland House as a faculty mentor, role model and guide, shaping the living and learning community of the thousands of students who have lived there.
Randy Tarkington, senior director of residential experience in the Office of Housing and Residential Experience, reflected on the significance of Helmuth’s partnership with his department.
“From the very beginning of The Ingram Commons, she worked to understand what we do in OHARE,” Tarkington said. “She has been an advocate for what we do and our role in residential colleges. Thousands of friendships have been made and enhanced during the signature Cafecitos, which will forever be a part of Sutherland House.”
“Dr. Helmuth has always remained passionate about her collaboration on student development. Her holistic processes and engagement in co-curricular activities play a pivotal role in the residential experience,” said Jorge J. Wellmann, assistant director for assessment and operations, who supervises the upper-division residential colleges and living-learning communities in OHARE. “Dr. Helmuth has served as a faculty chaperone for Commodore Cruises, participated in residential adviser training panels, engaged in the hiring of student staff and has always treated our team as equal partners—bridging the gap between academia and student affairs. Dr. Helmuth has remained invested in ensuring that our professionals and student staff continue to use our meaningful conversations, Student Care Network and resources to inform her programmatic vision and approach to meeting her community’s needs.”
The Office of the Dean of Students values the time and effort Helmuth has given to Vanderbilt students as a faculty head of house. Her impact will forever be valued by the division, students and the Vanderbilt community.