Christopher Roellke, PhD


Christopher RoellkeSmall

Image Courtesy of Jim Smith/Vassar College

Christopher Roellke earned his BA in American government from Wesleyan University, and his MS and PhD in the social and philosophical foundations of education from Cornell University. Prior to entering the doctoral program at Cornell, he was an award-winning secondary school history and social studies teacher in rural, suburban and urban settings.

His teaching, research and leadership interests are in the politics and economics of education, teacher education and faculty development, curricular innovation, and American higher education. His publications include refereed articles in The Journal of Education Finance, Education and Urban Society, The Peabody Journal of Education, School Business Affairs, Education Finance and Policy, and The Economics of Education Review. He completed a multi-state study of teacher recruitment and retention policy funded by the Economic Policy Institute and the MetLife Foundation. He is co-editor (with Jennifer King Rice, University of Maryland) of a book series titled, Research in Education Fiscal Policy and Practice: Local, National and Global Perspectives. The fourth volume of the series is focused on issues of policy and practice in American higher education and is scheduled for a 2020 release. Roellke is past president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP).

In 2008, Roellke was appointed Dean of the College at Vassar. The Dean of the College provides leadership for a wide range of services, including academic and career advising, international study, accessibility and educational opportunity, multicultural services, campus activities, student employment, religious and spiritual life, campus dining, and campus safety and security. After completing two full terms of exemplary service, from 2008 to 2018, Roellke was named Dean of the College Emeritus at Vassar.

Previously, Roellke has served as Dean of Studies, director of Academic Facilities Development, director of the Ford Scholars Program, and completed multiple terms as chair of the Department of Education. Since 1998, he has been engaged in several interdisciplinary initiatives at Vassar, including in urban studies, environmental studies and American studies. He is also the Founding Director of the Vassar College Urban Education Initiative (VCUEI), an urban education outreach and professional development project funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Dyson Foundation, Propel Capital and the family of Daniel Mindich, VC '87. An American Council on Education Fellow, Roellke has also served as a visiting scholar at Yale Law School, conducting research on school finance litigation. Part of his most recent research leave (Spring 2014) was spent as a Fulbright Scholar in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto, Japan. He is a former chair and current board member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill.

Roellke's wife, Kim Greenberg Roellke, was born and raised in New York City and is a veterinarian in private practice at the Center for Veterinary Care in Millbrook, NY. She is also the consulting veterinarian for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and serves on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Additionally, for the past 10 years, Kim has served as a trustee on the Poughkeepsie Day School Board and is currently its vice president. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, New York State Veterinary Medical Society and the Mid-Hudson Valley Veterinary Medical Society. She earned her BA at Wesleyan University where she also served as captain of both women's rugby and women's ice hockey. Kim earned her DVM at Cornell University. 

Kim and Chris have three daughters. Emma (VC '16) is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College and is currently a medical school student at the New York University Long Island School of Medicine. Julia (VC '19) was an All-Academic Team honoree of the Liberty League for collegiate basketball. Currently, Julia is a science educator and sustainability fellow at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Connecticut. Olivia is a sophomore at Poughkeepsie Day School and is an avid equestrian who competes in the jumper division in regional and national horse shows.