Yale University

Center of Language Study director Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year after serving in the position for over 15 years.

Her retirement was announced by Dean of Faculty of Arts & Sciences Tamar Gendler in a faculty-wide email on Wednesday. Van Deusen-Scholl – a professor adjunct of linguistics – assumed the position in 2007. 

As director, she led the development of programs that support the study of language and culture at Yale, including an English Language Program that prepares graduate students whose first language is not English and an undergraduate peer tutoring program for undergraduate students enrolled in language instruction. 

“The decision to retire was a difficult one because I love my job and am so lucky to have been part of this amazing community,” Van Deusen-Scholl wrote in an email to the News. “But I plan to continue to be involved in language education and will be working on a couple of book projects and several national language initiatives.”

During her time as director, Van Deusen-Scholl developed the English Language Program that prepares graduate students whose first language is not English for teaching at Yale. The program supports professional school students across the University. She also began the Shared Course Initiative, a collaboration with Columbia and Cornell to share less commonly-taught languages through videoconferencing. Van Deusen-Scholl also led the Directed Independent Language Study program, which offers language instruction in languages not taught at Yale.

In addition to the CLS directorship, Van Deusen-Scholl served as Associate Dean in Yale College, overseeing the language requirement, and Professor Adjunct of Linguistics. As a professor, she taught an annual graduate seminar on Principles of Language Teaching and Learning and developed a graduate certificate in Second Language Acquisitions.

“It seems like not very long since Nelleke came to Yale,” said Kirk Wetters, professor of Germanic languages and literatures. “It was a pleasure working with her on the Language Study Committee for nearly ten years. We accomplished a lot in that time. Nelleke’s leadership made the Center for Language Study an internationally recognized hub for research… countless students and faculty members benefitted from her support and leadership on university policies related to language study.” 

Outside of Yale, Van Deusen-Scholl served as a governing board member of the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning since 2001. From 2010-2013, she was the consortium’s president. 

As a highly-regarded author, Van Deusen-Scholl’s papers and books are also widely read in the field of language education. 

“Nelleke has been one of the most profoundly productive contributors in the fields of applied linguistics, second language acquisition, and second language teaching and learning,” said director of the University of Chicago Language Center Catherine Bauman in a press release.

In the wake of Van Deusen-Scholl’s departure, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler has established an advisory committee to determine the direction of the Center for Language Study.

According to Gendler, The CLS advisory committee is composed of faculty and staff who are deeply involved in the organization, and represent the breadth of language study at Yale.

[The committee members] understand the needs of language instructors and students, and I am confident that their recommendations will help us to continue strengthening the study of language at Yale, building on Nelleke’s incredible work,” Gendler wrote to the News. “The committee has been charged with making recommendations about the near- and long-term future of the CLS, including, but not limited to advising me about the leadership of the CLS.”

Gendler established an advisory committee, which will provide recommendations on the direction of the CLS. Members of the advisory committee are Angela Lee-Smith, Kathryn Lofton, John Mangan, Theresa Schenker, Pamela Schirmeister, Kevin van Bladel, Steven Wilkinson, Suzanne Young, and Jason Zentz.

Reflecting on her time at Yale, Van Deusen-Scholl emphasized the close-knit relationships within the language community at Yale.

The breadth and depth of language instruction and the level of collegiality and collaboration among the language faculty at Yale are truly unique,” Van Deusen-Scholl wrote. “I would say that the most rewarding aspect of my job has been the opportunity to work with so many talented and dedicated language instructors who have become so much more than colleagues to me. I will miss them tremendously.”

Yale offers more than 50 foreign languages.


Alex Ye covers faculty and academics. He previously covered the endowment, finance and donations. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight majoring in applied mathematics.