New Leadership for Student Life

New Faces Bring New Energy To Students Initiatives

The Rutgers University--Newark (RU-N) student life staff, which is dedicated to serving students through a variety of programming, development opportunities, special events, and other resources, gained two dynamic new professionals this September.

Yoleidy Rosario came aboard as the director of LGBTQ and Intercultural Resource Center, while Erica Denise Williams is the assistant dean/director of student life and leadership.

Both report to and work in close coordination with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Corlisse Thomas, and Dean of Student Life Clayton Walton. Rosario and Williams enthusiastically embrace Thomas’s mission of developing and enhancing the student experience at RU-N, from acceptance to graduation, for all students, be they part-time, full-time, residents or commuters.

Rosario envisions an LGBTQ and Intercultural Resource Center that will foster an “empowered community that proactively engages in creating systemic change,” using education, creative engagement, and social justice initiatives, with the goal of “the liberation of LGBTQ and diverse communities” at RU-N and the greater Newark community.  

Williams talks of “engaging students’ interests” during orientation so they will become excited, committed, and involved during their years at RU-N, taking advantage of student organizations, service learning activities, community-building events, and leadership development opportunities aimed at providing students with skills that can be used at the university, in the community and throughout their lives at RU-N. 

Both emphasize the importance of being student-focused, data-driven, inclusive, and strategic as they develop new initiatives and build on existing activities, collaborating with students to determine what they want and need. 

Rosario’s challenge is to create programming and collaborations for a campus that is diverse not only in terms of its LGBTQ students but also in terms of race, nationalities, religions, cultures, and other intersectional identities.

Rosario brings a unique diversity background to the RU-N community. A native of the Dominican Republic, Rosario was raised in the Bronx and earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from colleges in Pennsylvania.  Before coming to RU-N, Rosario first worked with young children, teaching them healthy life skills through a Salvation Army community center, and then worked in diversity programming with college students in Pennsylvania and Arizona. Rosario self-identifies as a first-generation Afro-Latinx personality as well as a scholar-artist who plans to integrate a background in literature and theater into the Intercultural Resource Center’s outreach to students.

“I want to create high-touch, dynamic, and responsive programming that engages student development,” explains Williams, noting that RU-N is comprised of many communities, so her office must meet the diverse needs of the most diverse national university campus in the nation. While her plans, like Rosario’s, are still in development, she wants to create outreach initiatives that will cultivate students who are transformational leaders, with an emphasis on programming that is experiential and builds community.

Williams comes to RU-N by way of DePaul University in Chicago and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, schools known for progressivism and diversity.  Her career in student life began at the University of Michigan, working first with the Office of Greek Life and then in the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs. Just prior to RU-N, Williams served at Columbia University as associate director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs.