Picture of Katherine Vande Brake

Katherine Graves Vande Brake


Dean for Academic Programs


Academic Affairs

Office Location:

Bristol Campus: 201 Tadlock Wallace House

Office Phone:



I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- 
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost


I now own the house where I grew up. It overlooks a ravine whose creek empties into Lake Michigan. My view in October is Frost's "yellow wood," and the "paths no step has trodden black" have long been my paths.

My road less traveled was doctoral study 35 years after I graduated from college. I did complete my Ph.D. at Michigan Tech in 2005. Being a student again after 30 years teaching middle school, high school, and college stands out as the best decision of my life. My dream in high school was to be a writer; My application essay for MTU became my first book, and my dissertation my second. Both books focus on the Melungeons, a tri-racial group in Appalachia.

My career at King has included many things besides teaching: I directed ESOL for 11 years and new student orientation for 10. I coordinated summer camps and conferences. In 1993 I settled in the English Department where I taught composition and other courses for pre-service teachers. When I returned to Tennessee after my doctoral coursework in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, I created a new major, Technical and Professional Communication. In 2006, I began serving as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. In 2013, I transitioned to Dean for Academic Programs.

I spend my free time reading, writing, quilting, gardening, and enjoying both Appalachia and Lake Michigan's moods in every season.


Ph.D in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, Michigan Tech, 2006
M.A. in English, Michigan State University, 1966
B.A. in English, Michigan State University, 1965

Recent Publications and Presentations

Recent Presentations

  • "How They Shine, Melungeon Characters in Fiction of Appalachia" 21st Union of Melungeon Researchers, Morristown, TN, June 2017.
  • “Scrapbooking General Education Assessment” Association for General and Liberal Studies Annual Meeting 2013.
  • “Maintaining Momentum: Our Journey to Create an Assessment Culture” SACS Annual Meeting, December 2011.
  • “On Your Mark” on Development of the King College Core Curriculum in 2008-2009. SACS Annual Meeting, December 2010.
  • Fort Chiswell D.A.R., “Appalachia’s Melungeons and their Literacy Practices,” October 2010
  • Episcopal Diocese Retreat, Vardy Valley, TN, “Show Them How It Goes: Literacy at the Vardy School,” September 2010
  • Melungeon Union 2010, LMU and Vardy Valley, TN, “When You Read What ‘We’ Write,” June 2010
  • Bristol Historical Society, Sullivan County Historical Society, and Watauga Historical Society, (three different events—same presentation), “A Century of Progress: the Melungeon Experience through a Literacy Lens,” October 2009, January 2010, March 2010.
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, English Department Seminar on research methodologies for Graduate Students, “My Life Among Appalachia’s Melungeons,” June 2009
  • Historical Melungeons Conference, Rogersville, TN, “A Century of Progress: the Melungeon Experience through a Literacy Lens,” June 2009.


“King College E.S.O.L. Requirements.”  TESOL  Program Administration Newsletter, Winter 1990.

"Training Manual for Writing Center Tutors," with C. Kiser, V. Bower, E. Millsaps, K. McMurtry. Online at http://www.montreat.edu/tutor

How They Shine: Melungeon Characters in the Fiction of Appalachian Writers. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2001.

“Appalachian Echoes in the Novels of Lisa Alther,” Appalachian Heritage, Winter 2004, 27-30.

“Appalachia’s Melungeons,” Southern Ledger: Southern Writers, accessed at http://southernledger.com/Default.aspx?tabid=3122 12 Dec. 2006.

“My Old True Love by Shelia Kay Adams” (book review), Southern Ledger: Southern Writers, accessed at http://southernledger.com/Default.aspx?tabid=3122 12 Dec. 2006.

Through the Back Door: Melungeon Literacies and 21st Century Technologies. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, April 2009.

“Alther’s Washed in the Blood Chronicles Four Centuries of Melungeon History,” (book review), A! Magazine, Bristol Herald Courier, Bristol, TN, Oct. 2011.

Courses recently taught

TCOM 2630 LECT Visual Rhetoric