As a student at Dartmouth, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Vogele ’85 explored her spirituality through the William Jewett Tucker Foundation. As the new College chaplain and director of the William Jewett Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Living, Vogele is eager to help others do the same, whether they are religious or not.
“The years between high school and when someone enters the workforce are ideal for that exploration,” Vogele says in a conversation in her office in South Fairbanks, which she’s filled with colorful keepsakes—photographs from her student days, Christian folk art, a Tibetan scarf, and a portrait of a Hindu deity, to name a few.
‘Conscience and Heart’
Vogele’s involvement with spiritual life at Dartmouth has continued throughout her career. From 1985 to 1987, she served as the Tucker Foundation’s first volunteer coordinator. After completing a master of divinity at Yale Divinity School, she moved to the Upper Valley, serving as rector at St. Paul’s in White River Junction, Vt., from 2001 to 2012. In 2013, she returned to Dartmouth as director of religious and spiritual life; during her three-year tenure, she led the committee that set up the Tucker Center, an outgrowth of the Tucker Foundation.
Over the years, she has also contributed to Dartmouth as a volunteer in several areas, including working with students through the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and presenting talks for various centers on campus. And last December, she again joined the Dartmouth staff. She follows Rabbi Daveen Litwin, who was dean and chaplain of the center from 2016 until last June.
It feels good to be back, and to reconnect with colleagues she knew from the past, Vogele says. “If you spend enough time in a place, it feels like home.”
Vogele says her work leading the center is guided by a quote from the ninth president of Dartmouth, William Jewett Tucker, for whom the center is named: “Do not expect that you will make any lasting or strong impression on the world through intellectual power without the use of an equal amount of conscience and heart,” it reads, in part.
The Tucker Center aims to help students get in touch with, and develop, that conscience and heart, “so that when they combine that with their intellectual power, they can be more effective global citizens and human beings,” she says.
Often, that means working one-on-one. In her role as chaplain, Vogele meets with students who want to explore their faith, or who just need someone to listen and lend support.
“Every time I sit down with a student, I ask them: ‘Tell me about what your life’s been like so far here at Dartmouth. Tell me what’s been great. Tell me where the struggles have been,’ ” she says.
‘Meaning and Purpose’
As the center’s director, Vogele says she’s looking forward to continuing to collaborate with colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, and the Student Wellness Center, among others.
“I feel that that is the most effective way to help students think about meaning and purpose, in all matters of life.”
That collaborative spirit was one of the qualities that distinguished Vogele in a field of strong candidates, says Bryant Ford, associate dean for community life and inclusivity, who chaired the nationwide search.
She wanted to make sure that she was working with stakeholders on campus to not only push the Tucker Center forward, but also let them know about the center’s work and opportunities for collaboration, Ford says. And her familiarity with the Tucker Center and the United Campus Ministry, which comprises 25 student religious groups, was also a great asset, Ford says.
“She also had a way of being able to leverage her relationships with people to be able to get things done, which we thought was really great.”
Looking ahead, Vogele wants to encourage campus conversations about difference—especially religious difference, she says. “We’re all global citizens, and so wherever these students go in our world, it’s important that they understand the role that faith plays in those places.”