Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School News and Events

Bouchet Conference to Explore ‘Historicizing
the Contemporary State of Diversity’

The Graduate School’s Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO) will host “Then and Now: Historicizing the Contemporary State of Diversity in Higher Education” – this year’s Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education, April 19 and 20. The event is one of the many programs ODEO organizes to support students and scholars and encourage diversity at Yale.

The conference is named for Yale alumnus Edward Alexander Bouchet who, in 1876, became the first African American to earn a PhD in any discipline from an American university and the sixth person ever to earn a doctorate in physics in the western hemisphere. His portrait hangs in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library.

Opening Panel Considers Gun Violence and Grief

The conference will begin on Friday, April 19, at 4:30 pm in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High Street, Room 101. An opening panel, “The Aftermath of Newtown, Connecticut: Violence, Mental Health, Implications, and Opportunities for Scholars in the Academy,” will feature Michele Nealon-Woods, national president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, which trains clinical psychologists at five campuses from California to Washington, D.C., as well as online. Nealon-Woods is known for her dedication to ensuring that underserved populations receive mental health care.

It is my sincere hope that the insightful ideas, thought-provoking questions, shared energy, and synergistic relationships which blossom during this annual event continue to shift and heighten consciousness on an individual, institutional, societal, and global level.
Michelle Nearon

Also on the opening panel, graduate student Elena Wright Mayville (Psychology) will speak about “the grieving process of the victims’ families and the community, and emotion regulation skills that can be helpful in tragic circumstances such as these. I’ll also touch upon the ways people can support their friends and family members in their grieving,” she says. Elena’s dissertation, advised by Margaret Clark, explores how relationships shape the way people express their emotions.

The Edward A. Bouchet Leadership Award will be presented this year to Juliet Garcia, the first Mexican-American woman to become president of a college or university in the U.S. Under her leadership, the University of Texas at Brownsville has grown from 49 acres to more than 460 acres; the budget as increased from $31.4 million to $145 million, and the enrollment has grown from under 7,400 to over 17,000 students.

“The Bouchet Conference has evolved into a critical forum for keeping issues of diversity at the forefront of conversation,” says Michelle Nearon, director of ODEO. “As colleagues and students from across the nation gather together, we celebrate our differences while embracing the opportunity to network and explore potential solutions to pressing problems. What began a decade ago as an isolated conference has metamorphosed into a national scholarly meeting of the minds that continues to highlight the amazing research contributions of students across the disciplines. It is my sincere hope that the insightful ideas, thought-provoking questions, shared energy, and synergistic relationships which blossom during this annual event continue to shift and heighten consciousness on an individual, institutional, societal, and global level.”

Postdoctoral fellow OrLando Yarborough III (PhD 2010, Genetics) is a member of the conference planning committee, helping structure the conference, choose speakers, and advocate for award recipients. A member of the Bouchet Honor Society and former Diversity Fellow, he says that his involvement as a student with ODEO provided him with a “support structure that undergirded my doctoral completion. I attended the first Bouchet Conference and have in many ways been matured by it over the years through my participation. As a postdoc, I continue my involvement, not only to give back, but because my own scholarship improves as I sharpen my mind and speech alongside those of the highest caliber.”

ODEO is crucial to a place like Yale, as all institutions must adjust to the constantly changing landscape of diversity, so that its students are not just educated, but prepared for the diversity of the world.
Justin Garyu

Supporting a Broad Definition of Diversity

In addition to the Bouchet Conference, ODEO sponsors events throughout the year to support and encourage students and scholars. Some, like the monthly Bouchet Seminars, focus on research. Others, like “Navigating Graduate Life,” offer practical advice on how to negotiate the academic system at Yale while incorporating individual cultural backgrounds into students’ development as scholars. ODEO also builds community through its “Peer-to-Peer Advising Program” and social events such as the ODEO Welcome Receptions in September and February to kick off the start of each semester. The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society recognizes students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy who have distinguished themselves through outstanding scholarly achievement, leadership, character and service.

Justin Garyu was named a Bouchet Scholar last year and is currently an ODEO Fellow. “We develop programs that foster the inclusion of all kinds of people into the academy. Not just racial diversity, but diversity in its many forms: gender, sexuality, age, nationality, socioeconomic disparity, even learning disabilities. Along with programming, we provide direct support to graduate students through peer-to-peer advising and mentorship. I feel that ODEO is crucial to a place like Yale, as all institutions must adjust to the constantly changing landscape of diversity, so that its students are not just educated, but prepared for the diversity of the world.”

Edward Bouchet

Edward Bouchet

Bouchet Conference composite

Top to bottom: Michelle Nearon, director of ODEO; guest speakers Michele Nealon-Woods and Juliet Garcia; graduate students Elena Wright Mayville and Justin Garyu.