Surbhi Bharadwaj, Staff Photographer

Just two days after the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning race-conscious college admissions, the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning and Yale College established a new Office of Educational Opportunity. 

The office consists of four programs: FGLI Thrive, Academic Strategies, STEM Navigators and the Disability and Neurodiversity Program. Through peer mentorship programs and collaboration with other Yale College programs — including cultural centers, libraries, the Office of Career Strategy and the Office of Fellowships and Funding — the office aims to help students of all backgrounds take full advantage of the University’s resources.

“The new Office of Educational Opportunity will centralize resources to ensure that all Yale College students have access to the educational, advisory, and co-curricular opportunities needed to succeed,” Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis and Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, wrote in a Thursday afternoon email to the Yale College community. “The office will make many of the Poorvu Center’s popular mentoring programs, workshops, and dedicated resources more visible and accessible.” 

Each of the office’s four programs combines new and pre-existing resources to support students in different parts of their Yale experience. 

The Academic Strategies Program, launched in 2016, aims to help students navigate Yale’s “hidden curriculum” through peer mentoring and academic workshops, according to its website. Under the Office of Educational Opportunity, this program will expand to provide specific support for first-generation, low-income students and students from underrepresented backgrounds, Lewis and Jenny Frederick, associate provost for academic initiatives, wrote in a July email to the Yale College community.

The FGLI Thrive program includes several FGLI Peer Mentorship Groups and an ongoing collaboration with the Office of Student Engagement, according to Karin Gosselink, the Office of Educational Opportunity’s inaugural director.

The Disability and Neurodiversity Programs include learning specialist support as well as a disability peer mentor program, Gosselink said.

The STEM Navigators program aims to help undergraduate students succeed in their early STEM courses and discover relevant opportunities at the University through study halls, peer mentoring and workshopping events.

“I hope that our program provides students pursuing STEM at Yale with resources and mentorship to help them navigate the maze of STEM academia and career development — things I lacked especially as a first-gen low-income student,” Audrey Yeung ’22, creator and coordinator of the STEM Navigators program, wrote in an email to the News. 

According to Gosselink, since the start of this semester, the office has seen a high level of student engagement, most notably from first years. According to Gosselink, 225 students have signed up for the FGLI First Year Peer Groups — a component of the FGLI Thrive program — and 300 have signed up for the STEM Navigators program.

Gosselink also told the News that over 60 students attended a Tuesday afternoon ice cream social on Cross Campus for STEM Navigators.

“Every Yale student has a unique path into and through Yale, and our goal is to help students find and take advantage of the opportunities Yale presents while feeling supported in their efforts to thrive on their own terms,” Gosselink wrote in an email to the News. 

Despite its establishment just after the Supreme Court overturned affirmative action in college admissions, Gosselink maintained that the office was not a result of the decision. Planning for the office began over nine months before it was officially launched in July, Gosselink wrote.

Still, she acknowledged that the office’s mission closely aligns with the admissions office’s practices of recruiting students from underrepresented backgrounds and assembling Yale College classes that reflect the diversity of the world.

“The Office of Educational Opportunity is an extension of Yale’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at a time at which those efforts are being systematically undermined at other universities across the United States,” Gosselink wrote. “The existence of the Office of Educational Opportunity both communicates that Yale is committed to helping every student thrive and puts those words into action through the continued expansion of our services.”

Lewis became actively involved in the office’s development shortly after starting his term in the summer of 2022, per Gosselink. 

Lewis told the News that he immediately recognized the breadth of programming offered to support FGLI students at Yale, so he wanted to help centralize these resources — the goal of the Office of Educational Opportunity. 

“There are a substantial number of students who went to private prep schools, which often have a lot of resources similar to Yale,” Lewis said. “But some students come from less resourced high schools, and they may not just be familiar with the kinds of things that Yale offers. The goal is to make sure that whatever your background, you have a source of information to learn more about the resources that are here to support students.”

In addition to supporting students who have already matriculated to Yale, Lewis said, the Office is also useful in promoting continued diversity in future Yale College classes. 

Gosselink echoed this sentiment, as did Quinlan.

“We know that many prospective students are drawn to Yale because of its supportive culture,” Quinlan wrote in an email to the News. “I am proud that Yale College is redoubling and expanding its investment in successful academic support programming. I believe the new Office will help Yale students—who come from a more diverse set of backgrounds than ever before—better engage all of the university’s vast resources.”

The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning is located at 301 York St.

Molly Reinmann covers Admissions, Financial Aid & Alumni for the News. Originally from Westchester, New York, she is a sophomore in Berkeley College majoring in American Studies.