Yale college

School Notes: Yale College
November/December 2010

Two cultural centers begin school year with new leadership

The College welcomed two new assistant deans at the start of this academic year to direct the Native American Cultural Center and the Afro-American Cultural Center.

Theodore (“Ted”) Van Alst Jr., who took over as director of the Native American Cultural Center, came to Yale from the University of Connecticut, where he was an assistant professor of English and modern and classical languages as well as an adviser, program leader, and strategic planner. Known as a wise and caring counselor to students on matters academic, cultural, and personal, Dean Van Alst speaks Spanish, French, Italian, German, Lakota, and Gullah, and has a special research interest in Native American cinema. He quickly immersed himself in the diverse interests and activities of the center and is anxious to highlight what he calls “the many facets of Native academic, social, and cultural developments.”

The new director of the Afro-American Cultural Center, Rodney Cohen, previously served as director of Presbyterian College’s office of multicultural student affairs and office of student activities. Prior to that he held positions at Notre Dame, University of Texas, North Carolina A&T State University, and Fisk University. In his previous work, he administered college-wide diversity programs, managed registered undergraduate organizations and student centers, and supervised multicultural student associations—experiences that positioned him well to continue the extensive outreach and partnerships that have long been a hallmark of “The House.” At the Afro-American Cultural Center, Dean Cohen is building on his past efforts to foster collaboration among areas including admissions, alumni affairs, faculty councils, academic programming, and development. A major goal, he said, has been “to create a seamless transition of leadership at the cultural center, while providing significant support and leadership of select programs within the Yale College dean’s office.”

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