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GSAS Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Update 2022

March 3, 2022

A Message from Dean Cooley

Dear graduate students,

If you have seen the recent message from Secretary and Vice President for University Life, Kim Goff-Crews, or the Feb 23 Yale News article on campus roadmaps for promoting equity, you will know that the university has been galvanizing its efforts to make Yale more welcoming and inclusive for everyone.

At the Graduate School, we see Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) as the responsibility of everyone in our community. The efforts of our Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity (OGSDD) led by Senior Associate Dean Michelle Nearon and her staff have been making an impact across the Graduate School on the recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented students. I write to affirm our values, update you on our recent accomplishments, and share what we have planned for the next five years.

Vision and Values

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is committed to creating and sustaining a welcoming and inclusive campus community. Students from all backgrounds and experiences are to be supported in their scholarly endeavors, as well as their professional and personal development.

We believe in collaborative, collegial, ethical, inclusive, innovative, and respectful interactions. By infusing our work with these qualities, we cultivate a collegial environment that thrives on new perspectives, and advances knowledge.

Recent Progress and Achievements / Year 1

Even during challenging circumstances due to the pandemic, we have made a great deal of progress since our last update. We have:

  • Evaluated the effectiveness of current OGSDD recruiting practices to increase the number of competitive applications from students in underrepresented groups. As a result, we will expand our undergraduate summer research and post-baccalaureate research experiences.
  • Begun to track prospective students’ experiences through all phases of their participation in key recruitment programs (e.g., Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, Diversity Preview Days, Diversity Recruitment Days, Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Programs). By monitoring outcomes, we can adapt these programs to better prepare talented students for graduate school education.
  • Completed departmental diversity, equity, wellness, and inclusion (DEWI) strategic plan frameworks to better understand department-specific practices around recruitment, retention, and professional development.
  • Increased the number of strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Native American and Alaska Native Serving Institutions, and Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Serving Institutions – and will continue to pursue these beneficial relationships.
  • Reviewed the GSAS admissions application to ensure questions are expressed in clear and inclusive language that provides meaningful information for the selection process.
  • Hired a new Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life to support graduate students with coaching and professional development.
  • Planned professional development workshops for graduate students around topics such as conflict resolution, time management, organizational skills, leadership, and others, and expect to offer more on an ongoing basis.

Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Programs (PREP)

One of the most effective ways we engage students from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing graduate education is through our Emerging Scholar Initiative Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (ESI PREP) for recent college graduates. The ESI PREP provides participants in all divisions of the Graduate School with a foundation of knowledge, research experiences, and skills development necessary to be successful Ph.D. students. In collaboration with the Yale Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program (BBS), we were awarded a $1.4M grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support those ESI PREP participants with a desire to obtain a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical sciences.

Recruitment/application data

Students from underrepresented groups are defined as U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents identifying as Hispanic/Latino,a,x, Black/African American, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, or multi-racial with at least one of the categories mentioned. Since 2016 we have seen:

  • Underrepresented student applications increase by 89.7%
  • Offers of admission increase by 39.2%
  • Acceptances increase by 56.4%

While some of the overall increase in applications was due to changes in the GSAS GRE (Graduate Record Examination) requirement, it was also significantly affected by:

  • Continued efforts to expose prospective students to the Yale community via summer undergraduate and post-baccalaureate faculty-mentored research experiences.
  • Participation in graduate school fairs and national conferences
  • Targeted campus outreach including virtual information sessions and visits to Yale.

Five Objectives / Five Years

The GSAS Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategic plan prioritizes student recruitment, progress, and retention with the following goals over the next five years:

  • Diversifying the pool of talented graduate students.
  • Providing resources specifically for graduate students’ progress and retention.
  • Supporting the educational and intellectual mission of departments and programs by helping to foster a culture in which all students are supported in their pursuit of knowledge and original, imaginative, and distinguished research contributions in their chosen fields.
  • Supporting students’ health and wellness.
  • Supporting the professional development of graduate students for entry into the workforce in the academy and public and private sectors. 

18th Annual Yale Bouchet Virtual Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education | April 7-8, 2022

The Annual Yale Bouchet Conference is an inspiring annual event through which the Graduate School promotes diversity and equity in higher education. With nationally recognized speakers, lively discussions on diversity in graduate education, and networking sessions, it is an excellent use of a spring weekend.

This year’s speakers are Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and frequent TED contributor, and Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. a highly respected scholar of religion and expert on the writer, James Baldwin.

Registration for the upcoming conference is free but required. I hope to see you at this exciting event.


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Thank you for everything you do to make the Graduate School a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all of us. If you have questions or ideas to share about our DEI&B efforts, please contact Dr. Michelle Nearon, Senior Associate Dean of Diversity.

If you would like to know more about Yale’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts, please visit the updated Belonging at Yale website.