Catherine Cooper appointed faculty director of EPC

Professor of psychology Catherine Cooper has been appointed to the position of faculty director of UCSC's Educational Partnership Center (EPC).

The Faculty Director will contribute to leadership and foster innovation within the EPC, including developing new programs and proposals, evaluation and improvement of existing projects, facilitating awareness and collaboration between the EPC and campus faculty, and expanding strategic collaborations from preschool through graduate and professional school (P-20) within the region. The appointment was made by Richard Hughey, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.

The Educational Partnership Center (EPC) is a first point of contact for K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, businesses, and community-based organizations interested in creating educational partnerships with UC Santa Cruz. The EPC seeks to build college-bound communities that improve student learning and increase college-going, persistence, and graduation rates among traditionally non-college-going students and their families. The EPC is funded with a mixture of general state funds, targeted state funds, and extramural awards. The EPC works with leaders from each UC campus as part of the UC Office of the President (UCOP) P-20 Leaders Group.

Cooper’s research focuses on how youth from culturally diverse communities build pathways to college and careers without losing their ties to their families, peers, and cultural communities. She directs the Bridging Multiple Worlds Alliance, a network of researchers, educators, and policymakers working to open educational opportunities throughout P-20. Her recent book, Bridging Multiple Worlds: Cultures, Identities, and Pathways to College (Oxford University Press, 2011), highlights research, policy, and practice about these issues and features research and partnership work with the EPC.

Since 1998, Cooper has served as the faculty research advisor to the EPC. She has collaborated with EPC staff and partners through three generations of GEAR UP funding, including the new programs in Pajaro Valley and South Monterey County that will be funded by a $14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. She has worked with regional, state, national, and international partners, including the Santa Cruz County College Commitment (S4C) and the Monterey Bay Educational Consortium (MBEC).

"Professor Cooper brings exceptional credentials and energy to her expanded role at the EPC," Hughey said. "She is well known in Santa Cruz and neighboring counties, and internationally as well. For example, her new book recently received the 2012 Social Policy Book Award from the Society for Research in Adolescence.

He added that Cooper's extensive experience and collaborations with the EPC will help the center’s staff grow and excel even as they weather diminishing state support of higher education and access to higher education. "She will also be able to help forge new links between campus faculty and the EPC, further integrating our missions of research and community service,” Hughey said.

Cooper sees the faculty director role as nourishing the work of the EPC while building synergies with faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and community partners to advance our shared goals of opening educational opportunities. She looks forward to building these collaborations and welcomes interested people sending her information about their current work and suggestions for new directions (