Diversity Spotlight: Pat Carey, PhD

February 14, 2024 - Becky Jensen

Pat Carey smiles at the camera. “I am still fighting in my own way for human rights,” said Pat Carey, MSU Psychology Alumna. Carey is now retired, but she has had a long and celebrated career at New York University, one that continues to foster equal rights in countless ways. We are celebrating her incredible strides during Black History Month.  

Since Carey was a college student in the 1960s, she saw in real time how the world was changing. She went on to attend many civil rights rallies as a young woman, and with her husband, some of those rallies were alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She took away many lessons from the human rights icon, including what effective influence and leadership look like.  

“If we believe in democracy, that everybody is human, equal, belongs here, that this is our world, this is our country, this is our university, it is extremely important to communicate that message to the community so that we can understand that we are all in this together. We cannot make this journey by ourselves. We need everyone, with their own talents, their own skills and experiences, their own knowledge, their own personalities, their own experiences ... all of that matters,” said Carey.  

After she graduated from MSU, with both a bachelor and masters in 1963, Carey went on to NYU to get her PhD, and became a highly skilled psychologist and faculty member at NYU, eventually becoming Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Chancellor, and Associate Vice Provost for Diversity Programs.   

In 1986, Carey established the notable Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Program at NYU that recruits and retains students from diverse backgrounds. “It is a university-wide honors program that focuses on the legacy of Dr. King. Scholars engage in academic endeavors, including travel colloquia and community service. I am most proud that the Program is still going forward today, as many other colleges having adapted the model,” said Carey.   

Carey’s career exemplifies values of innovation, inclusion, and impact with outstanding contributions to NYU and across the country. She has received many prestigious awards, which includes the NYU Dr. Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award, which is given to student leaders who embody humility, compassion, and strong character.

Carey has some advice for all students on how to further civil and human rights in their circles:  “Stay informed. Be engaged. Be nosy. Ask questions.”   

She also added that it is crucial to use one’s voice, “Make sure you register to vote. That's your right and your responsibility. Exercise it, because you have no right, otherwise, to talk about what's wrong with this country unless you help our country determine the direction in which we must go.”