Rutgers' Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Counselors provide a critical support network for Rutgers students, serving as academic advisers, career counselors, advocates and mentors.
Created through the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund, EOF Counselors are part of a campus-based system for motivated but under-served students who have faced economic and educational challenges. The work of these valuable staff members results in a state university that better serves our region by increasing access, opportunity and student success.
Though EOF students do not usually meet the most competetive entrance criteria for the university, they typically graduate in the top 20% of their class. That's precisely why the enabling legislation mandates that EOF programs offer not just financial support, but also academic support, educational counseling and leadership training. EOF Counselors assist students in their transition from high school to college since EOF students must meet the same exit criteria as all other students to earn a degree. Tens of thousands have done so at Rutgers thanks to the valuable work of these individuals.
A common misperception is that EOF students have a low graduation rate. This is not true. In fact, our graduation rate is on par with that of the non-EOF population. We cannot overemphasize that many EOF students are among the alumni of Rutgers University. Among those alumni are physicians, scientists, dentists, chiropractors, teachers, researchers, attorneys, physical therapists, consultants, politicians, engineers, pharmacists and a few CEOs. Most graduates would not have been afforded the opportunity to demonstrate their potential had it not been for the EOF Program.
Another common misperception is that EOF is a race-based program. Perhaps this is because most EOF students are residents of poorly performing New Jersey school districts (formerly called Abbott Districts), where the majority of students are also from US ethnic minority groups. In truth, EOF is one of the more broad-based educational access programs precisely because its criteria are “race-blind.” Nonetheless, EOF proudly claims its roots in the Civil Rights Movement. For decades, EOF Programs have contributed greatly to the diversity of the Rutgers student body.
Shornna Berkeley, AAUP-AFT member activist and Senior EOF Counselor, was given an award on May 7, 2015 for her leadership as the union representative on behalf of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Counselors bargaining unit. Standing with Shornna is Patrick Nowlan, Executive Director, Rutgers AAUP-AFT.