Over the summer Dr. Brooke Vick joined the Provost senior staff as its new Associate Provost for Faculty and Diversity Initiatives (APFDI), a new position which oversees creation and maintenance of a diverse and inclusive campus.
Responsibilities of the APFDI include the hiring of new and part-time faculty, recruiting and maintaining faculty from underrepresented groups and overseeing the implementation of the Diversity Strategic plan. Vick will additionally be working with student groups such as Emerging Leaders, President’s council for diversity, the multicultural center as well as leading Intergroup dialogue, in which she is trained. She hopes to bring to campus a culture of listening inside and outside the classroom, as she has done on previous campuses.
“I’ve worked with faculty at other campuses, bringing intergroup dialogue techniques to them and helping them understand how they can bring some of that understanding into their classrooms,” said Vick, “and how we can bring some of that understanding into how we relate to people on campus. I was a professor for 12 years before I came here and I would use intergroup dialogue in my seminars, classes. They weren’t intergroup dialogue classes, but I would bring those techniques into the classroom.”
Intergroup dialogue is the process of having a conversation between individuals of different social standings.
“One of the first things you learn [in intergroup dialogue] is how to practice listening and the difference in hearing and listening. Often when people are talking with us, we’re hearing what they’re saying but part of our brain is thinking about how we’re going to respond, or what we think they’re going to say. We have our inner judgement on,” said Vick. “And what listening is is shutting all that off, and learning to be dialed in to what someone has to say and listening to understand as opposed to listen to respond.”
Vick herself is a liberal arts graduate, earning her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in women’s studies and a concentration in theatre from Colorado College. As a student, Vick felt the need to justify her choice in studies.
“I was really concerned with making sure that everyone understood how psychology and women’s studies and theatre all fit together. I had to have this grand plan about who I was and how I would present that to other people,” said Vick. “ [Looking back,] I would tell myself to allow myself to enjoy the diversity of things that I was doing without being so concerned … that I have this whole story about what it is and why I’m doing it.”
She went on to earn her M.A and Ph.D in social psychology before taking a teaching job at Whitman College teaching social psychology, the psychology of prejudice, social stigma and intergroup relations and working to bring intergroup dialogue techniques into the classroom.
While Vick is the first to take on the official role as APFDI, explained Provost Dr. Kathleen Harring, the position itself is not new but rather an outgrowth of an already existing position. The tasks had previously been assigned to the Associate Dean for Diversity, a part-time position created three years ago as part of the Diversity Strategic plan. Harring’s concern was that faculty took on the part-time position in addition to teaching a full course load.
“The breadth and the depth of the responsibility for the position needed someone who was doing it more than 50 percent of the time,” said Harring. “So when I became the Provost, I restrustrued the provost’s office and moved the associate dean position to an associate provost position.”
“Brooke Vick brings to her position as associate provost of faculty and diversity initiatives a deep understanding of theory and research in intergroup dynamics and experience applying these ideas to support inclusion and equity in higher education,” said Harring in an interview with the Office of Communications. “I am thrilled that she is joining Muhlenberg and the provost senior staff team.”