New university office to promote educational equity for Yale undergraduates

Launched July 1, the new Office of Educational Opportunity will ensure widespread and ready access to educational, advising, and co-curricular opportunities.
Students sitting outside on Cross Campus.

(Photo by Jack Devlin)

Yale College and the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning have established a new Office of Educational Opportunity, which will promote educational equity and ensure that all undergraduates have widespread and ready access to Yale’s educational, advising, and co-curricular opportunities.

The office was officially launched on July 1.

Given the tremendous growth in the first-generation and low-income communities, and in the number of students seeking guidance for their educational experience, Yale College has been assessing programs that support them,” Pericles Lewis, dean of Yale College, and Jenny Frederick, associate provost for academic initiatives, wrote in a message announcing the new office.

Karin Gosselink will serve as the office’s inaugural director. She already serves as the director of the Poorvu Center’s Academic Strategies Program and will take on the additional role of assistant dean for educational opportunity in Yale College. The Academic Strategies Program, launched in 2016, prepares students to take active ownership over their academic choices and get the most out of their educational experience.

Building on the successes of the Academic Strategies Program, the Office of Educational Opportunity will provide support to first-generation and low-income students, students from underrepresented backgrounds, students with diverse abilities, and any student seeking support in navigating a Yale College education.

To support the office's work, its advisory committee will bring together representatives of existing programs designed to support students who identify as first generation or low income, and will be chaired by Associate Vice President and Dean for Student Engagement Burgwell Howard.

Also serving on the advisory committee will be Associate Provost Jenny Frederick and Deputy Dean of Yale College Pamela Schirmeister. Dean Gosselink will report jointly to Alfred Guy, Jr., senior director of undergraduate writing and tutoring in the Poorvu Center, and to George Levesque, dean of academic affairs in Yale College. The office will be supported by current Academic Strategies staff, fellows, and undergraduate and graduate student mentors.

In their message, Lewis and Frederick expressed gratitude to Enrique de la Cruz, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and head of Branford College, for chairing the review committee on the First-Year Scholars at Yale Program (FSY). The committee evaluated the goals, components, and outcomes of FSY and recommended that the new office coordinate FSY and other programs and resources to support students throughout the academic year. They also thanked the review committee's members:

From Yale:

Surjit Chandhoke, dean of Trumbull College; lecturer and research scientist in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and secretary of the committee

Sarah Demers, professor of physics

Andrew Forsyth, chief of staff, Yale College

Heather Klemann, lecturer in English

Matthew Makomenaw, assistant dean, Yale College; director, Native American Cultural Center

Vincent Wilczynski, deputy dean, Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science; James S. Tyler Director of the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design

External Members:

Kimberly Bethea, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education; director, Academic Resource Center, Duke University

Khristina Gonzalez, Associate Dean of the College, Princeton University; Bob Peck ’88 Director of the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity

The idea of creating the Office of Educational Opportunity grew out of a strong collaboration between Yale College and the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, and Dean Gosselink’s inclusive leadership approach will ensure that all Yale College students have access to world-class opportunities and support,” said Frederick.

Added Lewis: “The Office of Educational Opportunity will coordinate many of our services to underrepresented students. It signifies our commitment to building a Yale College that reflects the diversity of our nation and our world and to ensuring that all students admitted to Yale can thrive here.”

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