Caltech: Candace Rypisi Named Caltech’s Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Student-Faculty Programs

Candace Rypisi, whose leadership of the Student-Faculty Programs (SFP) office since 2007 has led to the growth and success of such critical Institute efforts as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) and WAVE Fellows programs, has been named Caltech’s assistant vice provost and director of Student-Faculty Programs. In this expanded position, Rypisi will work to strengthen the Institute’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts through a focus on graduate student recruitment and to support engaged and experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates.

“Expanding Candace’s role at the Institute is a recognition of the superb work she has done in her 20 years at Caltech,” says Cindy Weinstein, vice provost, chief diversity officer, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of English, “and also an acknowledgment of how she will contribute to our DEI goals and our efforts to continue improving the student experience.”

Rypisi has already worked to grow the Institute’s WAVE Fellows program, which aims to foster diversity by providing undergraduate research opportunities to underrepresented students and making Caltech’s graduate programs more accessible to students not traditionally exposed to the Institute. The goal is to identify and connect with students who might want to come to Caltech for graduate school. This 10-week research-based summer program, which began in 2015, will grow from 25 students to nearly 80 this summer.

In her new role, Rypisi will further increase DEI efforts in the arena of graduate student recruitment by developing strategies and implementing processes that will diversify the graduate student population. To that end, she will also be taking a leadership role in the Institute’s Graduate Summer Research Institute (GSRI)—which launched in 2020—and Future Ignited programs.

“I’m excited to be a part of these new and expanded efforts,” Rypisi says. “My work at Caltech has always been about supporting equitable access and student academic success in one way or another. There is so much energy on campus right now to help move forward our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am looking forward to helping us achieve our goals.”

Rypisi will also work to strengthen the Institute’s undergraduate programs through engaged and experiential learning. “While doing research is still one of the primary avenues in which students are able to apply what they are learning in the classroom to solving real-world problems, there is a growing number of experiential learning opportunities now available,” she notes. “By working with faculty and programs across campus, we hope to design, promote, and support pathways for students to get involved in these hands-on opportunities with the goal of increasing student participation and learning outcomes.”

In her time at Caltech, Rypisi has grown the SFP office from managing the SURF program of approximately 325 students to administering more than a dozen programs—on campus, at JPL, and abroad—serving more than 900 students. And they were able to steer SURF and other research-based efforts through the tumultuous summer of 2020, during which pandemic conditions necessitated a virtual program. Despite these challenges, Rypisi and her team “were able to ensure that 80 percent of the SURF students had a research project,” Weinstein says.

“Candace’s wisdom, energy and organizational skills have made her an extraordinary leader of the SFP office,” says Caltech provost David A. Tirrell. “I look forward to working with her as she takes on new challenges as assistant vice provost with broad responsibilities for student recruitment and success.”