New Vice Provost Farouk Dey aims to help students find their life purpose

By KATY WILNER | September 20, 2018

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COURTESY OF FAROUK DEY

Dey’s position was only recently created created by the university.

The University recently hired Farouk Dey to serve as the vice provost for integrative learning and life design, a new position created to guide students as they develop their career paths. Dey began his job on Aug. 27. He hopes to connect undergraduate and graduate students with meaningful work experience. 

Since Dey arrived on campus, he has focused on connecting with the Career Center, department heads and various faculty members to learn more about student needs at Hopkins. Dey is also interested in collaborating with partners across all nine Hopkins campuses.

Dey said that because he is new to the University, and his position is also new, he is interested in learning about student involvement within the community. Dey also said that he is learning about student accessibility to careers, in order for him to create a tangible plan on how to help students achieve their full academic and career potentials. 

“My hope is, by creating that culture, we would help every single student, undergraduate and graduate students, to design, to pursue and to live their life purpose,” he said.

Dey’s position also focuses on “life design,” which he describes as a progression of stages. He said that through his work at various colleges, he has encountered many students who are not entirely sure what they wish to pursue. 

Dey compared life design to a figurative path that students create for themselves. He said that students need to focus on their internal interests and use that to figure out which direction that path will go. He said that life design is not purely for careers but for a student’s individual vision for their life and for what they wish to accomplish.

“The mistake that some people make is that they think they have to pave the entire way before they walk on it,” he said. “Life design is about paving the way, one stone at a time.”

Before joining the University, Dey was the associate vice provost for student affairs and dean of career and experiential education at Stanford University. He said during his time there, he worked on exploring his philosophy about the benefits of experiential learning and helped change the way students perceive potential careers.

“I was successful there at changing the conversation and the narrative from the career center being about jobs and internships, to being about meaningful work,” Dey said.

When he was offered a job at Hopkins, Dey said that he was excited to work with the University because of the administration’s keen interest in his work with integrative learning.

“It is an interesting time at this institution where all of the leadership is aligned around positioning Hopkins for greater success,” he said. “There’s a sort of a culture of risk-taking and wanting to try new things from the administrators, which I have not seen in higher education before.”

Dey plans to work with the University to increase student involvement on campus through methods such as a more streamlined mode of accessing internship opportunities and jobs at Hopkins. He said that although many students do have jobs on campus, he would like to make these on-campus jobs more impactful and educational for students.

He said that one of the most common problems students deal with is figuring out what they want to do with their lives after college. Dey argues that in order for students to figure out what they should choose to do, they must pursue opportunities to gain experiences through hands-on work.

“[Students] are unsure of what they’re really interested in,” he said. “They don’t know what the possibilities are they haven’t taken the time to explore who they are and experiment with options.”

Dey also said that he would like for students to increase their self-awareness during their college years, especially by participating in student-run groups that teach them skills they would not necessarily utilize in a classroom setting. 

“College is an amazing opportunity for any student to take a pause and reflect on what they, ultimately, want to accomplish with their lives,” he said.

Dey says that he has interacted with many students who look back at their undergraduate experience and wish they had been involved in more campus groups and activities. He hopes to encourage participation in student groups by making these activities more accessible to students who are undecided about what they want to become involved with.

He explained that participation in student groups and activities was an integral part of his experience with higher education. Dey, originally from Algeria, came to the U.S. when he was 18 to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He said he was involved in many student organizations on campus, which helped him pave his own life path. 

After receiving a degree in business administration, he received an MBA and master’s degree in education from Washington State University. He later received a PhD in higher education from the University of Florida, focusing on how experiential education impacts students.

Dey said that because he was an international student, he knows from experience that students can face many challenges in accessing University resources, especially if a student is a first-generation college attendee or a part of a minority group on campus. 

Dey intends to help these groups of students by creating targeted specialized programming and bringing in employers who are looking to diversify their workforce.

“I know that from research that underrepresented students tend to learn better and engage in a different way with different programmatic activities when they happen in their own environment and within their own communities,” Dey said.

Dey also plans to streamline pre-existing resources for students. He says that there are many programs at Hopkins that do not need to be reinvented but do need to work on their approach to engaging students. He says that making all these resources available on one website would help students navigate their way through the opportunities available to them.

“I don’t see myself needing to create a lot of new programs but instead identifying what already exists and presenting them in a coherent way. You should be able to structure your education in a similar way to how you structure your coursework,” he said.

Dey plans to explore more of what the campus already has to offer and then will later propose a plan to the University with tangible actions to create a more holistic educational experience for students.

One department Dey intends to work closely with is the Career Center. He wants to make the Center more interactive with both students and the community. To do this, Dey believes the Center must not only help students find jobs and internships, but also help them figure out their true passions.

“The work of the Career Centers on campus should be more than a place to go to receive service,” he said. “It should be engaged, and it should engage students in the process of learning about themselves.”

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