Vanessa Ryan is Senior Associate Dean of Student Development at the Graduate School at Brown University. She supports graduate student success, excellence in teaching and communication, and professional and student development, as well as student affairs initiatives across Brown’s PhD and MFA programs. She leads special programs, including the Open Graduate Education program, Brown Executive Scholars Training Program, Brown-Wheaton Faculty Fellows, Deans’ Faculty Fellows, and Interdisciplinary Opportunities Fellows programs. She and her team also serve as the principal point of contact for students seeking additional support through the Graduate School.
She also serves as a resource to faculty and staff in graduate programs around questions of academic progress, graduate teaching, professional development, and student appointments. Vanessa brings a multilingual and international background to her commitment to supporting international and multilingual graduate students, working in partnership with the Office of Global Engagement. She coordinates other opportunities with partner offices, including the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, the undergraduate College, the Center for Career Exploration, and the Division of Campus Life.
Vanessa is an advocate of liberal education, and has served as a Fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, and is committed to strengthening and expanding access to higher education. For her teaching, she has received the Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship. She is also the recipient of the Wilson-DeBlois Award, presented annually to a staff member who has made outstanding contributions to doctoral students and the Graduate School.
She received her A.B. in Literature from Harvard University. Following a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Tübingen, she received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Yale University. She served three years as Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows before joining the faculty at Brown in 2007 as Assistant Professor of English, with a focus on nineteenth-century British literature and studies in science and literature, serving as Research Forum Mellon Foundation Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute in 2009. She joined the Graduate School in 2014.