By Nathaniel Luce
Jennifer Escalas, Dean Samuel B. and Evelyn R. Richmond Professor in Marketing, has been named the Associate Dean of Academic Programs, effective July 1.
Her appointment comes as Nancy Lea Hyer, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Learning and James A. Speyer Associate Professor of Production Management, returns to the faculty after serving in the position for 9 years.
In her new role, Escalas will focus on curriculum and course delivery across Owen’s degree programs. “As we continue to expand our existing programs and launch new ones, I am excited to have Jenny join the Dean’s office,” noted Dean M. Eric Johnson. “Jenny’s many years of experience as the Marketing Area Coordinator and her work with colleagues to build our successful Master of Marketing program have prepared her well to help us move Owen to the next level.”
Escalas is one of the first researchers to explore narrative processing, which proposes that individuals process information by thinking in the form of a story. While consumer research influenced by the information processing paradigm of the 70s and 80s conceptualizes people as “naïve scientists,” Escalas’s research makes the case for thinking of consumers as story-builders, which provides new insights into how they respond to advertising and use brands for self-expression.
Her work on consumer self-identity contributes to our understanding of consumers’ mental representation of ‘self’, not as a single, monolithic construct, but as a multifaceted, dynamic representation that can become connected to brands as consumers create and express themselves. She developed a scale to measure self-brand connections, conceptualized as the extent to which individuals have incorporated a brand into their self-concepts. Her research also explores how consumers use brands to meet self-related needs. She was recognized with the Dean’s Research Impact Award in 2018.
Escalas has taught 5 different courses since arriving at Vanderbilt, with students noting her passion for the topics and her subject matter expertise. In 2022, she won the Master of Marketing Teaching Award and was a finalist for the James A. Webb Award for Teaching Excellence. She is also a commendable citizen to the School and the University, having served as Marketing Area Coordinator for many years and on the Promotion and Tenure Review Committee, among many others.