By Mike Morland
Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, has announced the appointment of Carla O’Connor as director of Wolverine Pathways. She will replace the program’s founding director, Robert Jagers, on June 1.
“Carla has been an exceptional leader throughout her career,” Sellers says. “I’m confident that she will thrive in advancing the excellent foundation of Wolverine Pathways.”
Wolverine Pathways is a supplemental educational program for students who live within the Detroit, Ypsilanti and Southfield school districts and are entering seventh and 10th grades. It is part of U-M’s effort to provide opportunities to students in communities that are historically underrepresented on campus.
The program is offered at no cost to students and families. Each student who successfully completes the Wolverine Pathways program, applies to U-M and is admitted will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship for four years.
O’Connor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of education, has been a member of the University of Michigan faculty for 21 years. She has also served as the associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Education.
Her disciplinary emphasis is sociology of education with expertise in the areas of African-American achievement, urban education, and ethnographic methods.
O’Connor’s work includes examinations of how black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and influences educational outcomes; how black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within and across social space and shape academic orientation; how black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional and historical forces; and how the organization and culture of school’s influence students’ social and academic identities and outcomes.
“Carla’s professional expertise is extremely valuable in this role,” says Sellers. “Her focus and commitment to making higher education accessible to everyone will benefit both current and future Wolverine Pathways scholars.”
O’Connor’s work has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Ethnic and Racial Studies.
She also co-edited the book “Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement” and has contributed to multiple handbooks and edited volumes that contend with issues of educational inequality and access.
A founding member of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, O’Connor also has professional affiliations with the American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association and Association of Black Sociologists.
She has received numerous awards and honors for her work in diversity, mentorship and education, including U-M’s Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award.
O’Connor received a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wesleyan University.