After 19 years of serving the University, Linda De Laurentis stepped down from her post as Fellowship Programs director Wednesday.
During her tenure at Yale, De Laurentis has overseen a more than 100 percent increase in the number of fellowships coordinated through the office. Jane Edwards, dean of professional and international experience, said she also transformed the culture of applying to fellowships at Yale. Kate Dailinger and Timothy Stumph, associate directors of the Office of Fellowship Programs under De Laurentis, have assumed her position as co-directors.
“Her single biggest contribution [was] to make the process of applying to fellowships an integrated piece of people’s educational experience,” Edwards said.
Edwards and De Laurentis both said that it is important to learn how to handle not winning a fellowship, and to frame the fellowship application process itself as an educational experience.
De Laurentis said the number of fellowship programs at Yale has grown a great deal since she started working for the University, from about 20 fellowships to about 55 national and Yale-funded fellowships.
Yale College Dean Miller said De Laurentis has raised Yale’s profile in international fellowship competitions since she came to Yale.
“Among her most remarkable achievements is our success in Fulbright competitions — we were the second in the nation this past year, second only to Michigan, an institution of 40,000+ students,” Miller said in an e-mail.
De Laurentis served as Yale students’ dedicated Fulbright adviser. The University has consistently been near the top of the competition for Fulbrights in recent years, placing second in the U.S. in 2007, third in 2008 and sixth in 2009.
Fulbright applicant Alison Lu ’11 called De Laurentis helpful and encouraging.
“I was on the fence about applying to the Fulbright, so I went in and talked to her,” she said. “She encouraged me to apply. … She told me that I should go for it, so I did, and we’ll see what happens.”
Edwards said De Laurentis brought extensive experience with her when she came to Yale, given that she had been involved in the National Association of Fellowship Advisors since the association’s beginning. Edwards added that De Laurentis has presided over a “process of professionalization” in the fellowships office, making the fellowship application system smoother and more user-friendly. For example, the office compiled fellowship offerings into the online Student Grants and Fellowship Database in 2004 to aid students in their search for funding and opportunities.
Edwards said De Laurentis cultivated excellent relationships with the faculty, getting them involved in advising fellowship applicants.
On Monday afternoon, Yale College hosted a reception for De Laurentis’ retirement in the President’s Room in Woolsey Hall. Dean of Yale College Mary Miller spoke at the reception, which also featured a string quartet playing chamber music all afternoon. De Laurentis said the best part of the event for her was being presented with a scrapbook containing the thoughts from students she had helped in the fellowship process.
“It’s all about the students,” De Laurentis said, adding that she will miss the students and her colleagues. “It’s been a great two decades.”
This fall, two Yale students were selected as Rhodes Scholars, three as Marshall Scholars and one as a Mitchell Scholar.