Groups detail Tucker split

by Pooja Singhi | 9/25/14 7:09pm

As the Tucker Foundation prepares to split into two centers by next fall — one focused on religious and spiritual life, the other on community service — working groups are busy determining details of the division.

Last fall, then-interim provost Martin Wybourne convened a task force that suggested dividing Tucker, a recommendation the Board of Trustees approved at its June meeting and announced July 9.

Three recent reviews of the Tucker Foundation stated that it should change its structure, and discussion of the issue came to a head last summer alongside discussions of Right Rev. James Tengatenga’s selection as dean, whose appointment was revoked following comments he made on homosexuality.

Two working groups launched soon after the Board’s announcement — one on the Dartmouth Center for Service, led by Tucker interim dean Theresa Ellis, and one addressing the Tucker Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, by Tucker religious and spiritual life director Rev. Nancy Vogele.

Both groups compromise alumni, professors and students. The groups will work throughout the fall, talking to students and other stakeholders, gathering data and looking at other schools’ centers for religion and service.

The groups will then make recommendations to Wybourne, who will decide how the two centers will be divided. Wybourne, now the vice president for research, began the project as interim provost and will see it through to completion.

“These working groups are looking at the high-level, what is going to be the mission and what is going to be the strategic aim — the big picture,” Vogele said. Decisions will then be implemented in the winter and spring.

Tucker staff will offer feedback to the working groups, said Tucker program officer for local community service Tracy Dustin-Eichler.

Vogele, Dustin-Eichler and Ellis all said that the process is still in its initial stages. Details on programming changes, the centers’ locations and their directors have not been decided.

Vogele said that each center will have a clearer mission, and Dustin-Eichler said that the restructuring will allow each to develop its own identity.

“It’s a great opportunity to make sure that both religious and spiritual life and service can be really their full selves, be fully in their missions, and not have to hold together two things that — while for many people are related — aren’t necessarily related,” Ellis said.

After the separation, the Tucker Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the Dartmouth Center for Service still intend to collaborate. Because service is part of many students’ faith, Vogele said, the future Dartmouth Center for Service will continue to facilitate religious students’ desire to serve the community.

The centers will provide space and opportunities for students to engage with the intersection between spirituality and service, Dustin-Eichler said.

Students and faculty interviewed were optimistic about the foundation’s restructuring.

Tucker student director Tanya Budler ’15 said she thinks some people do not understand that they can be involved with the service side of Tucker without being spiritual and vice versa.

Vogele said she hopes the division will encourage more students to get involved with Tucker and dispel this misconception.

Andrew Nalani ’16, student director of Tucker’s office of religious and spiritual life, said that, with this change in structure, students will need to be more intentional about choosing which center to focus on and maintaining awareness of other opportunities.

Restructuring will reflect the directions Tucker has taken since its establishment in 1951, Vogele said.

“Anytime you align with reality, it’s a benefit,” Vogele said. “Students were really clear, and I think if students are clear, we need to follow that clarity.”