College Welcomes New Assistant Deans

Assistant Deans Ted Van Alst, left, and Rodney Cohen are the newest members of the Yale College Dean’s Office.

September 7, 2010

Beginning with the 2010-2011 academic year, two newcomers to the Yale College Dean’s Office will be playing a significant part in the academic and extracurricular life of the Yale community.  As directors of the Native American Cultural Center and the Afro-American Cultural Center respectively, Assistant Deans Theodore (“Ted”) C. Van Alst, Jr., and Rodney T. Cohen bring a wealth of collective experience, leadership, and passion for education to their work with Yale students, faculty and staff. 

In his role as director of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC), Dean Van Alst will draw on his considerable experience in advising, program design, and strategic planning.  From his prior work at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, he is known as a wise and caring adviser to students on matters academic, cultural, and personal.  Among his many talents, Dean Van Alst speaks Spanish, French, Italian, German, Lakota, and Gullah; he has a special academic research interest in Native American cinema. 

Already known to many members of the Yale community through his participation in NACC events over the years, Dean Van Alst is quickly immersing himself in the richly diverse interests and activities that the center comprises.  “I am truly excited by the incredible opportunities here that will allow us to highlight the many facets of Native academic, social, and cultural developments,” Van Alst said.  “With an upcoming visit from American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks and the centennial Henry Roe Cloud Conference this fall, we’re off to a great start.”

At the helm of the Afro-American Cultural Center, Dean Cohen is building on his past efforts (most recently at Presbyterian College’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Office of Student Activities) to foster collaboration among areas as wide-ranging as admissions, alumni affairs, faculty councils, academic programming, and development.  In his previous work, he has administered college-wide diversity programs, managed registered undergraduate organizations and the student centers, and overseen multicultural student associations—experiences that position him to continue the extensive outreach and partnerships that already are a hallmark of “The House.”

“Early on, I have been developing strong connections and relationships with the students, groups, and community members associated with the Afro-American Cultural Center, in addition to students of Yale College in general,” Cohen said.  “One major goal, early on, is to create a seamless transition of leadership at the [Afro-American] Cultural Center, while providing significant support and leadership of select programs within the Yale College Dean’s Office.”

Deans Cohen and Van Alst join the Yale College Office of Student Affairs, under the leadership of Dean Marichal Gentry.  “We are fortunate that [the new deans] are here to carry on the great work that has been done by former assistant deans and cultural center directors,” Gentry said.  “They have developed very ambitious goals for their centers and have gotten off to a great start.”


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