Friends and family, colleagues, and former students of James Vick gathered in Jester for the dedication of the James W. Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling. During his 40-year career at the university, Vick’s work as a stellar teacher and innovative administrator forever changed the student experience. It is fitting that this space, a hub of student activity and guidance, is now named in his honor.
Inaugural Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies Paul Woodruff and Brent Iverson, the current dean, spoke about Vick’s legacy before unveiling the center’s new signage. “Jim lives all the qualities the rest of us are trying to model for our students: integrity, curiosity about the world, a knack for fearless leadership, and a deep desire to serve others,” Dean Iverson said.
While the center’s name was swiftly approved by President Bill Powers last year, the School of Undergraduate Studies could not make it official until Vick retired from teaching on August 31. “While his retirement presents a clear disadvantage to future students, the naming of the center allows the university community to continue to celebrate the amazing imprint Dr. Vick leaves on the university,” Woodruff said.
In the spring of 2009, the School of Undergraduate Studies created the Center for Strategic Advising to guide and support students exploring majors and careers at the university. The first class of over 700 undeclared Undergraduate Studies students entered UT in the fall of 2009 and were advised by the new center’s team of five advisors, including the Assistant Dean for Advising David Spight, in a temporary office on the fourth floor of the Flawn Academic Center.
Today, the Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling is housed in the middle of campus on the first floor of Jester, where 12 academic advisors and three career counselors serve not only the 2,300 undeclared students enrolled in the School of Undergraduate Studies, but students from all colleges and schools who are unsure of their majors.
During his tenure as vice president for Student Affairs, Vick created the blueprint for the Center for Strategic Advising, with what was called the Undergraduate Advising Center. He also implemented a number of student programs, some of which are currently run out of the School of Undergraduate Studies, including First-year Interest Groups and the Freshman Reading Round-Up.
Vick embodies the kind of quality academic advising the Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling provides to students. He spent his time talking with students about the things they could accomplish. He listened, he remembered names, and all the while, he continued to teach his math courses and held office hours during which he did even more advising. His open-minded and open-hearted approach to every student he came into contact with made him an unforgettable teacher and an esteemed administrator.
Even while holding down major administrative posts, first as the associate dean of Natural Sciences, and then as the vice president for Student Affairs, Vick taught undergraduates every semester: in Plan II math classes, Calculus classes, and freshman seminars.
He has been recognized as an exceptional teacher since he first joined the math department in 1970. He is a founding member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and has won nearly every major teaching award offered to UT faculty:
Across the Forty Acres, students benefit from the numerous projects Vick dreamed of, nurtured, or encouraged others to bring fruition, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue and three honors residence halls, as well as major construction projects like the Recreational Sports Center and Student Services Building.
The School of Undergraduate Studies is proud to have its undergraduate advising center honor the indelible influence that James Vick has had on the university community.