New directors named for three cultural centers

Yale has appointed new directors for three of its cultural centers, according to a joint letter to the campus community from Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley, and Kimberly M. Goff-Crews, university secretary and vice president for student life.

The directors and their start dates are: Risë Nelson Burrow, Afro-American Cultural Center, beginning July 31; Eileen Galvez, La Casa Cultural, beginning July 31; and Kelly Fayard, Native American Cultural Center, beginning July 27. All three directors — who join Saveena Dhall, assistant dean and director of the Asian American Cultural Center — will also hold the title of assistant dean in Yale College.

Risë Nelson Burrow is currently at Cornell, where she has served since 2012 as director of student success programs in the university’s Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. In that role, and in others she has held at Mercy College, Loyola University, the University of Notre Dame, St. John’s University, and Columbia University, she works to equip students to make the transition to college, develop them as scholars and leaders, and prepare them for post-graduate success. Her focus for the past decade has been on providing students with advising, financial assistance, professional development, and scholarly and cultural opportunities. Burrow earned her M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, in higher and postsecondary education, and her B.A. from Northeastern, in English and in multiethnic American studies. A native of New Haven, she wrote her honors thesis on multicultural affairs at Hopkins School.

Eileen Galvez comes to Yale from Illinois Wesleyan University, where she has served as assistant director in the university’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion since 2013. In that role, she has overseen and coordinated programming for multi-ethnic, African-American, Latino/a, Asian American, Native American, and LGBTQ students, and she has also coordinated its Summer Enrichment Program. A strong advocate for student voices and culture change, Galvez instituted the university’s first LGBTQ graduation ceremony. Before coming to Illinois Wesleyan, Galvez served as coordinator of leadership & diversity in the Office of Student Life at Austin Community College, where, among a long list of other duties, she developed and oversaw leadership programs for the college’s eight campuses and 40,000 students. Galvez earned both her M.Ed., in guidance and counseling, and her B.A., in political science, from Texas State University.

Kelly Fayard, currently an assistant professor of anthropology at Bowdoin, has served as an academic adviser to students for four years, and she is also Bowdoin’s faculty representative for the Native American Student Association. She has also served on Bowdoin’s Advisory Committee for a Diverse Community, which seeks to diversify the college’s student body and faculty. Since last year, she has been a member of Bowdoin’s Curriculum and Education Policy Committee, which decides tenure lines and programming for the college. Fayard earned her Ph.D., in anthropology, and a certificate in museum studies from the University of Michigan, and she earned her B.A., in cultural anthropology and religion, from Duke. She is an enrolled member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a federally recognized tribe in southern Alabama.

In their announcement, Holloway, Cooley, and Goff-Crews thanked the members of the three search committees, “who in a very short span of time conducted comprehensive, national searches that attracted an extraordinary number of outstanding candidates.”

They also thanked Michelle Nearon, Amanda Hernandez, and Christopher Cutter, who provided “outstanding leadership” in their roles as interim directors, respectively, of the Afro-American Cultural Center, La Casa Cultural, and the Native American Cultural Center. All of the interim directors will be “active presences in the centers next year during this transition,” they noted.

Holloway, Cooley, and Goff-Crews concluded the letter by saying: “These appointments come at a time of increased support for the centers, as recommendations made earlier this year by an invited consultation group go into effect. Two of those recommendations, to improve the centers’ physical spaces and increase their budgets, are already in progress. Two others, to strengthen the centers’ leadership and oversight, will begin in August, with the arrival of Associate Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard, who will support and supervise the centers. Other recommendations still will call for continued engagement of the entire Yale community as well as the centers’ communities themselves. With all four centers now headed by full-time directors, they are well positioned for the work ahead.”

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