Heather Gumbert, assistant professor, and Robert Stephens, associate professor, both in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will lead the first step in the university’s residential college initiative as faculty principals of the Honors Residential College at East Ambler Johnston Hall.

Virginia Tech’s first residential college will open next fall for 330 University Honors students. In fall 2012, a second residential college in West Ambler Johnston Hall will open, providing a similar experience for students from all areas of the university, including those not involved with the University Honors program.

“We have found the perfect people to help launch this new residential community,” said Frank Shushok, associate vice president for student affairs. “Both are impassioned educators with a profound vision for how integrated learning in the residential context can strengthen undergraduate education for all. Heather Gumbert experienced a residential college as an undergraduate and brings that valuable experience as well.”

As faculty principals responsible for setting the vision for the intellectual climate of the residential college, Gumbert and Stephens will facilitate lectures, social activities, and educational programs to bring faculty and representatives from across the university and wider world into the residential college while building a strong sense of community among residents. Students in the residential college will represent all ages and disciplines in order to foster a diverse intellectual community.

“Heather and I are thrilled and honored to be chosen to work with the honors students to build a new model for living and learning at Virginia Tech,” said Stephens. “The Honors Residential College offers a unique opportunity to build community, cultivate life-long learning, stimulate a vibrant intellectual atmosphere, and promote an ethos based in service. Throughout this process, we have been enormously impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm for this new venture from students, Residential Life, the honors program, and the administration."

“Rob and Heather have a long history with honors,” said Terry Papillon, director of University Honors. “Both have taught honors colloquia and both have worked in a variety of ways with the program. I am so delighted that they will take on this new role that will serve University Honors students in such a profound way.”

Gumbert completed her master's degree and Ph.D in modern European history at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received the Barnes F. Lathrop dissertation prize. She earned an honors bachelor’s degree in history and German studies from Trent University in Ontario, Canada.

Since he joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2001, Stephens has won numerous awards for teaching, including the Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar Award. Previously, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a Ph.D. in modern European history. Stephens earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas.

University Honors at Virginia Tech serves exceptional students from all colleges of the university. It provides enhanced curriculum and advising opportunities and encourages students to be intentional about making their university years exceptional ones.



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