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With Focus on Interdisciplinary Approach, Lynch Welcomes New Undergrad Dean

Julia DeVoy, LGSOE ’06, started as the new associate dean of undergraduate students at the Lynch School of Education in August. DeVoy, who earned her doctorate in applied developmental and educational psychology from Boston College, has been working at the University in various roles since 1998.

DeVoy’s role as associate dean of undergraduate students in Lynch is to interface with the student population, which includes working with the Honors Cohort and the Lynch Senate, and advising students during the registration process and while planning to study abroad.

Essentially, we support and advise our students, as whole persons, during their journeys through the BC undergraduate Lynch School experience,” she said.

DeVoy said that she admires the vision of Dean of Lynch Stanton Wortham, which is for the school to be a leader in educating the whole student.

According to DeVoy, Lynch is currently working specifically to incorporate this holistic approach into the school’s first-year program.

“We’re adding several skill-enhancing aspects to help our students acquire an augmented set of tools,” DeVoy said. “These are tools that can assist them to excel academically, as well as socially and emotionally. Students come to BC from an array of high schools, and we want the playing field to be level so all Lynch School students have the full opportunity … to reach their own goals and aspirations.”

“We’re not just training [our students] to be good at their profession. We really want them to have a life of meaning and purpose out there in the world,” she said.

DeVoy expressed her support for the idea of having more interdisciplinary teaching, courses, and majors in Lynch, which will help to integrate Lynch more fully into the larger University.

According to DeVoy, this interdisciplinary approach will be beneficial because students who graduate from Lynch go on to a wide range of careers, both inside and outside of school settings. She believes that many new jobs in the future are going to necessitate interdisciplinary skills and processes.

“I also believe much of the new knowledge that comes is probably going to be generated at the intersections of disciplines … Those are often unexplored, unsettled spaces, and that’s where innovation and creativity is going to happen,” she said.

In addition to incorporating this interdisciplinary approach into Lynch itself, the school also encourages students to branch out and take classes in BC’s other colleges, DeVoy said. For example, many Lynch students are interested in social impact work, and when they ask about opportunities in this area, the Lynch School might encourage them to consider the Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good minor offered in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

While DeVoy has taught undergraduate and graduate psychology and education classes in Lynch since 2000, she has also done extensive work with the University’s McNair, Community Research, and Advanced Study Grant programs, and has overseen a vast number of independent studies and senior and honors theses. In 2016, she received the Ever to Excel Rev. John R. Trzaska, S.J., Award for her support and guidance of BC students outside of the classroom.

While teaching at BC, DeVoy has also done outside work in advising on the design of social impact initiatives in order to fix systemic social inequities. Currently, she works with initiatives that empower women who have disabilities or who have children with disabilities, and in the past she has done work with developing freshwater resource sustainability in Africa. In addition to her doctorate from BC, DeVoy also has a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University, an MTS from Harvard University, and an MBA from Oxford University.

Because she has worked at the University for a long time while simultaneously doing various work external to BC, DeVoy describes herself as both a cultural insider and outsider to the school.

“I haven’t been as immersed within the culture that I don’t see and value some external perspectives and lenses that could be helpful. On the other hand, I’m not so external that I don’t appreciate some aspects of the BC inner workings and see that some of those solid external ideas are simply not a BC fit,” she said.

“I’m really interested in facilitating change in a way that is manageable, positive, and sustainable,” DeVoy said. “Seventy-five percent of change initiatives fail, but I think that it’s really important to start somewhere. My slogan is ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

November 5, 2017

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