“I love what I do because the programs I oversee often are the catalysts that change the trajectory of a young person’s life, from a future of potential stagnation to one of infinite possibilities,” exclaims Deborah Walker-McCall when asked what she likes most about her job. Walker-McCall is the associate dean for Academic Affairs for the Academic Foundations Center of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences-Newark and the director of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program for all of Rutgers-Newark’s schools excluding Rutgers College of Nursing. Prior to her current position, she served as the assistant dean for the EOF Program for Rutgers College of Nursing from 2000 to 2007.
It’s easy to see why Walker-McCall finds her job so rewarding. EOF is a statefunded program that provides financial assistance and academic support services to low-income, first-generation college students. With the goal of helping EOF students stay in and ultimately graduate from school, all EOF students attend pre-college summer programs to ensure they possess basic college-level competencies, and while enrolled in the program, continually receive counseling on how to adjust and manage collegiate life. The efforts of Walker-McCall and her nearly 20-member staff are garnering impressive results. Walker-McCall proudly reports that EOF students graduate from Rutgers-Newark at the same rate as non-EOF students.
The Rutgers Future Scholars Program at Rutgers-Newark, an initiative of President McCormick, also falls under Walker-McCall’s purview. Now in its fourth year, the privately funded program creates a pipeline of academically ambitious Newark middle and high school students from low-income households who aspire to be among the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree. A Rutgers Future Scholar who gets admitted to and chooses to attend Rutgers University receives full tuition funding. At Rutgers-Newark there are 200 Rutgers Future Scholars in grades 8-11, with the first class graduating from high school in 2013.
Always endeavoring to increase the pool of college-ready youth from at-risk communities, Walker-McCall’s team recently won two $230,000 grants from the U.S. Department of Education that will be used to help students from Irvington, Orange and East Orange improve their reading, writing, math and other analytical skills. A total of 1,000 students ranging from grades 6-12 will benefit from the “Talent Search” grant
A native of Newark, Walker-McCall earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College of Nursing and her master of business administration in marketing and marketing research from Rutgers Business School. Married and the mother of three daughters, WalkerMcCall’s oldest daughter, a junior at Rutgers-New Brunswick, continues the scarlet and black tradition.