An Interview with Nancy Vogele ’85

Nancy Vogele ’85 Profile & Interview

In December 2012 the Reverend Nancy Vogele ’85, an Episcopal Priest, was named by the Tucker Foundation to become Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Dartmouth. Prior to joining the Foundation, Nancy served almost twenty years in Episcopal parish ministry, most recently as Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction for over a decade. Nancy was a Director and Vice President of DGALA from 2000 to 2003, and served as co-chair of DGALA’s first all-class reunion in the fall of 2002. She was appointed in 2008 to serve on the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection to study same-sex marriage in Vermont. The Commission’s findings were instrumental in Vermont’s landmark legislation granting marriage equality to all.

Would you tell us a bit about the Tucker Foundation and your role in it?

The Tucker Foundation began in the mid 1950s as the moral and spiritual authority of the College. Today it is Dartmouth’s Center for Service, Spirituality, and Social Justice. We literally have thousands of students engaged each year with our many programs. I am currently the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life. In addition to overall Foundation work, I focus providing programming and one-on-one work that helps students (and others) who are interested to grow deeper in their faith as well as multi-faith programming that help foster an appreciation and knowledge of the role faith plays in peoples’ lives (on campus, across the country, and throughout the world). One part of my role is that I oversee about two dozen student religious groups and their 30+ advisors.

What’s it like to be back at Dartmouth and working with students?

I love working with students! Even when I was a local parish priest, Pam Misener would contact me whenever she thought a student could benefit from talking with me. Now, I spend a good portion of my time working directly with students. I feel this helps me keep perspective on the administrative part of my position! The Dartmouth students I work with are so smart, energetic, creative, and deeply

Are there any parts of your current role that you find particularly enjoyable or moving?

Working with students. During Winter Term, I also shepherded another group into being: “Journey Inward, Journey Outward.” This group, started by two international students, is designed to help fellow students explore what is at their core that brings vitality to their lives and then how to live from the place of vitality. I’m their “elder” (!) and I don’t mind the term because the student who gave me the title is from Uganda where elders are respected.

What opportunities do you have to collaborate with colleagues across campus?

During Winter Term, I co-facilitated an Intergroup Dialogue on sexuality with 10 students. Our IGD met for 2 hours each week – which is a big time commitment for students and the facilitators. But it was so worth it. Together we learned about gender and sexuality and shared our life stories. Students got to be real and themselves and really appreciated being able to have a safe and brave space to explore these issues. This program was developed through the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL). I interact with these wonderful people on a weekly basis. Since it is just my nature to be about campus collaborating with other departments and folks, I think I spend ½ my time doing this. I am part of the Orientation Committee for next fall’s incoming call of 2018; I am a member of the search committee for a staff position in OPAL; I talk with a lot of people across campus about mindfulness and meditation; and am always looking for possible new partners and friends. It’s great to have so many here at Dartmouth.

What changes have you observed in the climate for LGBT individuals at Dartmouth, from when you were a student, through when you were a DGALA leader, through today?

First of all, when I was a student – way back when (1981-1985), there was VERY little in terms of LGBT support. There was no OPAL; no IDE (Institute of Diversity and Equity). There probably was some sort of Gay-Lesbian student group, but I didn’t know about it. All I know if that I went to a frat with a gay friend of mine and while I was using the restroom, he got kicked out of the party. There was no one to register a complaint with. Today, there is a way to anonymously register such a complaint (a “bias incident report”) on-line (another thing we didn’t have when I was a student – believe it or not!!). There is an advisor for LGBTQ students, a Center for Gender and Student Engagement, a Gender Neutral Living and Learning community, and a soon to be opened Triangle House. And there are official policies against discriminating along sexual orientation or gender lines. None of this was present when I was a student. There was also no DGALA acting on behalf of the students and the College. DGALA is a very important and powerful alumni group and we use our power judiciously and well. We must never take this for granted but also shirk from the responsibility was have to be a voice of inclusion for all.

What are your hopes for LGBT students at Dartmouth today?

Like all students, I hope their Dartmouth experience will help them think in totally new ways about this world we live in and how it operates as well as about themselves: Who are they? Who do they want to be? What gives them a sense of vitality and purpose? What brings them deep joy?

What are you looking forward to regarding DGALA’s 30th? 

I can’t wait to see other LGBTQ alumni and all the smiles and laughter that happens when we all come together. I only went to one of my class reunions and ended up hanging out with all the queer alums from the various class reunions. I realized, at least for me, the DGALA reunions were the most positive way for me to reconnect with other alums and enjoy each other’s company. It will also be great for everyone to see the finished Triangle Office and getting to interact with alums and students involved in this effort.