When Dr. Mary Dean started teaching at Brandman University nearly ten years ago, she never could have imagined that she would receive not one, but two faculty distinction awards over a 4-year period. But on May 1, Dr. Dean was named 2014 Faculty of the Year honoree for the JBLM campus, her second such honor. “I’m quite surprised by the award, but pleased to be honored,” said Dr. Dean. In 2010, she received the “Psychology Instructor of the Year” award from Brandman’s Lacey campus. “Teaching and practice are interconnected,” says Dean. “They’re both about how people learn and change, and as I see it, we’re all learning all the time.”
Dr. Dean has a longtime Psychology educator who not only teaches at Brandman, but at Evergreen State College and has a clinical appointment at the University of Washington, Tacoma. JBLM Campus Director Mary Ann Bardoni-Barbe has worked closely with Dr. Dean for years, “Dr. Dean is a caring compassionate teacher,” says Bardoni-Barbe. “She’s well-respected by her peers, and loved by her students.”
Mary Dean’s teaching career began in the 1970’s, and she’s influenced thousands of students since then. She received her UW clinical appointment in 1992, started teaching at Brandman in 2005, and Evergreen State College in 2006.
Dean also founded and directed the Mind/Body Medical Institute for MultiCare Health System, Tacoma in affiliation with the Harvard Medical School. She received certification in Mind/Body practices from Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute, focusing on medical symptom reduction, cardiac care, cancer care, and pain management. “The focus of my clinical practice is in health psychology,” says Dean. This field acknowledges the fact that conditions of the mind influence the body and conditions of the body influence the mind. The practice provides a holistic approach to an individual’s needs.”
In class, Dean teaches a comprehensive list of courses, from Ethics and Professional Issues, Psychopharmacology, Introduction to Counseling, and Life Span Development to Family Systems and Studies, and more. One of her upcoming courses focuses on health versus wealth, and the unintended consequences that can happen when you combine money, science and caring. Dean mentions the issue around vaccinations, the enormous public health effort to encourage vaccines, and yet she notes that there are still parents who don’t follow through. Or, there’s the gigantic amount work being done nationally to reduce medical errors. “There’s a huge effort behind it with studies and money, but we have yet to solve this problem says Dean. “We’re still struggling.”
With her extensive teaching track record, Dean is observing changes in education, primarily around the move from physical classrooms to online education. She points out that it was back in the 1970’s that anthropologist Margaret Mead had the concept of online education, although “she didn’t put it in those exact terms.” Dean explains that many students today are “folks who are working and raising families, and that’s where education has to go. It’s putting less money into brick and mortar classrooms, and more effort into gathering places where people learn and discuss with no drop-off in quality.”
One area in which Dean excels is with her students, particularly the adults in her classes. She says her best students are those who have “an earnest desire to learn the material and the willingness to do the scholarly work required to graduate.” And she adds that “persistence and a sense of humor” can be equally as important.
“I like the relationships that occur,” says Dean. “I’m very much a person who enjoys teaching adults, and to honor their experience and make a connection.”