Newly appointed vice president for university engagement says she has spent her lifetime answering a call to serve her community and is inspired by the need for social justice.
Nancy Rogers, mild-mannered vice president for university engagement at Indiana State, has a penchant for medieval fantasy and mysteries and a preference for movies with plenty of derring-do.
“I don’t have very high-brow taste, probably,” she said. “I always read a Stephen King book or two while I’m on vacation. I love the ‘Game of Thrones’ series of books and am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. I also like spy books. My favorite series is the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva. We also love to go to movies. Any kind of action, blockbuster movie we will go see.”
Rogers also plays the piano and likes to fish and do other outdoor activities with her family. As a working parent, she points out that she does not have a lot of time for entertainment, and that her family is her greatest passion. She’s been married to her husband, Don, for 21 years and has two children, Laura and Jonathan, a junior and freshman, respectively, at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.
Rogers also says she feels strongly about helping people, an area where Indiana State has excelled under her leadership, first as faculty fellow and director of the Center for University Engagement and later associate vice president for community engagement and student success prior to the creation of the Division of University Engagement.
“I’m concerned very much about social justice,” she says. “I’m concerned about people having the opportunity move ahead in life, to overcome poverty and to overcome prejudice. That’s the issue that’s most important to me.”
Serving others comes naturally to Rogers, who came to Indiana State in 1995 as a faculty member in recreation and sport management.
“It’s a commitment that I grew up with in my home,” she says. “My parents have been very active in their community. I was active in high school, church, 4-H and other organizations. It’s consistent with my faith. Service to others is something that people are called to do. It’s a value I try to instill in my children as well. There’s work to be done in the community so if not me, who?”
Lots of students, faculty and staff have heard the calling and responded, resulting in State being named No. 1 for service among 279 national universities in Washington Monthly magazine’s 2015 rankings.
“That’s very exciting. It’s a testament to our students, faculty and staff who have embraced it,” she said. “When we started this work in the early 2000s, I thought we could be successful, but I wouldn’t have guessed that we would come so far so quickly.”
Work is what motivates and drives her, Rogers says.
“I really do enjoy my work,” she says. “Something I like about my current positon is that I’ve got a foot on campus and am very involved in university life but am also very involved in all kinds of community initiatives. Watching students walk in the door as freshmen and then leave considerably changed over the time they’ve been here is something that I think motivates all of us, as well as being involved in campus life and the community and making progress.”
Rogers grew up in Macomb, Ill., where her father, William Brattain, was a student affairs administrator and professor of recreation, parks and tourism administration at Western Illinois University. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Western and a master’s and Ph.D. from Indiana University, all in recreation and park administration.
Prior to Indiana State, she worked at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, Virginia Tech and the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, her only positon outside higher education.
It is at State that Rogers found her niche.
“Nancy has done a tremendous job in leading our engagement efforts and making Indiana State a nationally recognized leader in this field,” university president Dan Bradley said in announcing her appointment as vice president.
Rogers says the best examples of State’s service are at the Wabash Valley Health Center, where Tim Demchak, associate professor of athletic training, leads students in providing rehabilitation therapy.
“They’ve made a difference in hundreds of people’s lives who just wouldn’t have had that kind of care someplace else,” she said. “A couple of my other favorite projects have been when we sponsored Habitat homes. It’s a lot of effort so we only do that every six or seven years but being able to give somebody a home is a pretty significant thing.”