Program History

Excerpts from a piece written by Thompson “Tony” Williams, TYP Director from 1969-1972,1978-2004

The Transitional Year Program (TYP) has been a dynamic, living part of Brandeis since its inception in 1968. It is the oldest continuous program of its kind in the country and demonstrates a commitment to building and cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Because the TYP’s roots grew out of the late sixties Civil Rights movement for social justice and equality, it has reflected the history of Brandeis and the social developments surrounding the University during a complex and troubled decade. The TYP’s resiliency and its modest but significant human and pedagogic achievements in this context are testimony to the enduring liberal tradition and spirit of Brandeis. This spirit, independent of shifting social and political fashions, is one that recognizes the liberating process of an excellent education on all people.

The TYP was born in the outpouring of shock and fear for the sanity of our society following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Shortly thereafter, ideas were conceived as Brandeis faculty sought to provide some creative institutional expression of concern for the educational neglect of minority and poor communities.

The faculty as a whole enthusiastically adopted the Transitional Year Program (TYP) and endorsed its fundamental structure of providing college access and opportunity at Brandeis for underprepared students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Then President Sachar approached the Zale Foundation for support and a donation campaign was mounted among faculty which raised over ten thousand dollars to start the Program. This, combined with support from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) enabled the Program to admit the first class in the Fall of 1968.

Professors Jacob Cohen and William Goldsmith were the TYP’s first Director and Faculty TYP Committee Chairperson, respectively. They brought to the TYP their rich experience with the summer Brandeis Upward Bound Program. The TYP was, and still is, aimed at a small number of students who have academic promise, and potential. 

Since its founding it has supported over 1000 students and has been under the direction of Thompson Williams (1969–1972), Clarence Hunter (1972–1977), and Ed Redd (1977-1978). Williams resumed the directorship in 1978 and retired as director in 2004. Erika J. Smith served as director from 2004-2016 and Kathryn Bethea-Rivera is the current director who started in 2016. 

The challenges are different today than they were, yet inequities still exist in the representation of various groups at highly selective private colleges like Brandeis. The MKTYP has morphed over the past 50+ years; yet, the core of the program is still a place of transformational education in order to advocate opportunity for all. 

The Essence of the TYP

Robert “Bob” V. Lange, Associate Professor of Physics, Emeritus
Co-founder of the TYP and long-time TYP math and science teacher

Overall, the essence of The Transitional Year Program of Brandeis University must be and is being preserved. The students bring talent, accomplishment and commitment. They represent the millions of young people who continue to fill our cities and rural communities who are ready to have spectacularly wonderful lives and ready to make outstanding contributions to our society and culture. The TYP is a door that Brandeis has opened to that world of young people. That door must and will remain open, and the people passing through it will continue to amaze and charm us with the explosion of accomplishment they experience before our eyes and in our hearts.