Isabel Roche is a scholar of 19th-century French literature. She previously served as Provost and Dean of the College, and was Interim President for the 2019-20 academic year.
Roche is a scholar of the 19th-century French novel and French Romanticism. She is the author of Character and Meaning in the Novels of Victor Hugo (Purdue University Press, 2006) and has published articles in The French Review and French Forum, as well as in numerous collected volumes of essays. A noted scholar of Victor Hugo, Roche was invited to write the introduction and notes to the Barnes & Noble English-language publications of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (2004), as well as for Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera (2006).
Roche served as Interim President of Bennington College from July 1, 2019- July 31, 2020. Prior to this appointment, Roche served as Provost and Dean of the College for eight and a half years (January 2011- June 2019). Before joining the Bennington faculty of the Isabelle Kaplan Center for Languages and Cultures in 2002, she taught at Williams College, The Cooper Union, and SUNY Stony Brook.
As Bennington’s Provost and Dean, Roche oversaw all matters related to faculty, from hiring, to mentorship, and review. Roche also headed Academic Services; Student Life; Field Work Term; Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment; Crossett Library; the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA); the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program; the College’s residential MFA programs; and the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Roche has represented Bennington in a myriad of academic consortia and organizations, and currently serves on the executive committee of the Consortium for Environments in Innovative Learning. In 2016, she participated in The Academy for Innovative Leadership in Higher Education (Georgetown University and Arizona State University). In 2013, she co-authored, “The Plan for Bennington: An (Ever) Emergent Curriculum,” published in The College Curriculum: A Reader (Joseph Devitis, ed. Peter Lang, 2013). Roche has been tapped to speak nationally about innovations particular to Bennington—from the College’s emergent structures, to inquiry based learning, alternative models for performance reviews, and the importance of international student recruitment at liberal arts colleges. Her thoughtful advocacy has led to greater recognition of Bennington’s critical role as a leader in higher education among its peers, with granting organizations, and by the media.
Roche earned a BA from Bates College and her MA and PhD from New York University.