Get to know Vanderbilt’s residential faculty: Ravindra Duddu

Ravindra Duddu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his family outside Rothschild College.
Ravindra Duddu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his family outside Rothschild College.

Vanderbilt’s uniquely personal and collaborative residential college experience offers one of the most rewarding aspects of student life at the university. Undergraduate houses and colleges are led by faculty who live in community with students. Meet the university’s newest faculty heads of house and heads of college in this special series. 

  • Name: Ravindra (Ravi) Duddu
  • Residential college: Rothschild
  • Faculty position: Associate professor of civil and environmental engineering
  • Years at Vanderbilt: 10
  • Hometown: Bhimavaram, India
  • Favorite song: “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi. I also like many songs from various nations and languages. 
  • Favorite book: None. I do not have the patience to sit and read an entire book. I listen to talks by authors and follow podcasts on world history, economy, climate and health. I do like the writings of Michael Pollan.
  • Favorite food: Ethiopian (injera and shiro wat)—I will happily eat anything plant-based. 
  • Favorite spots on campus: Featheringill Hall, the dining hall at E. Bronson Ingram College and Alumni Lawn
  • What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming academic year? Moving fully back to in-person meetings with faculty and students, and hosting seminar speakers and visitors on campus. While Zoom and Teams helped us stay connected the past two years, these interactions pale in comparison to in-person ones.  
  • Why did you want to be a faculty head of college? As I begin my second decade as a faculty member at Vanderbilt and adjust to the post-pandemic normalcy, I want to renew and rejuvenate my connections with our students and the broader campus community. As the faculty head of college, I want to have dialogues with students on a wide range of topics, including time and stress management, self-advocacy and physical and mental fitness. I look forward to hosting a few signature events, like “Roth ’n’ Roll” study breaks, “Roth ’n’ Rejuvenate” yoga sessions and the “Roth Radness” tournament (time permitting) to promote wellness and FUN (Finding University Networks).  
  • What do you value about the residential college experience? I believe education is much more than just credentialing our undergraduate students. Education happens in the expanse of residential colleges and the campus through interactions and experiences with faculty mentors, peers and friends, as much as in the confines of the classroom. The experiences students have in residential colleges are transformative, as they help them discover their values and purpose.  
  • What does your family think about living on campus? My family is delighted to call Rothschild College our home. Both my daughters (8 and 4 years old) were in Vanderbilt daycare, and they spent a lot of time exploring the campus. We have trick-or-treated at Vanderbilt Greek Row in the past and are already excited for this October. We are also looking forward to hosting students for movie/game nights.

    Faculty head of Rothschild College Ravindra Duddu and his family.
  • What advice do you have for new students coming to campus and for returning students? Quoting my undergraduate mentor Professor Devdas Menon and paraphrasing Warren Buffett, my advice to students is to “Stop sleepwalking through life.” Start thinking about your career and financial and relationship goals while in college. Party and have fun, but remember to schedule your sleep time, me time and study time.  
  • Please share a funny or poignant experience you’ve had at Vanderbilt. My last name, Duddu, is a Telugu (my native language) word that is pronounced as “the-do” (as close as it gets). However, most people (who are not Telugu natives) are unaware of this, so they pronounce it as “doo-doo,” which is awkward and funny. Now, every semester on the first day of class, I take a minute to inform my students how to correctly pronounce my last name. If that is too tough, then they can call me “The Dude” or “El Duderino” (from The Big Lebowski).
  • What do you love about working at Vanderbilt? Quoting Ray Dalio from Principles: Life and Work: “Meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals, and everything I did was for them.” I love working at Vanderbilt for meaningful work—conducting impactful research and educating the next generation. And for meaningful relationships—long-lasting friendships and collaborations with colleagues and students.

Read about other faculty heads of house in this special series. 

Learn more about Vanderbilt’s residential colleges.