John Rogers ’84 GRD ’89 had been biting his tongue for weeks.
Rogers, an associate professor of English with three Yale degrees and a collection of notable awards and accomplishments, was instructed to keep quiet about his appointment as the new master of Berkeley College, and he did.
Before his appointment was announced by Yale President Richard Levin to a dining hall full of eager Berkeleyites at lunch on Friday, Rogers traveled to J. Press in search of a Berkeley tie to show his college pride. As he placed the tie on the counter and reached for his wallet, the salesman offered his congratulations to Rogers.
“The man who sold me the tie knew [about my appointment as Berkeley’s master], so I’m not sure if it was kept a perfect secret [by everyone],” Rogers said.
Whether or not it was kept a perfect secret, it’s not a secret anymore — Rogers, wife Cornelia Pearsall ’84, and 22-month-old daughter Lily will move into the master’s house for a period of five years, beginning July 1.
Rogers’ moving in means that current master Harry Stout will be moving out. After 11 years of service, Stout — with Davenport Master Gerald Thomas and Morse Master Stanton Wheeler — is one of the three college masters who will step down after this year.
He said while he is leaving the position of Berkeley College master, he is not leaving Yale or Berkeley.
“[Professor Rogers] is exciting, dynamic, and very, very smart,” Stout said. “I could not be happier with the choice of my successor.”
Stout’s opinion is shared by the Berkeley community.
“I think he’s just wonderful,” said Margaret Meyers ’01, who served on the search committee. The group submitted a list to Levin of about a dozen suggestions, slimmed down from around 50 initial candidates.
They were looking for a master who would be active and take a personal interest in the college, committee member Robert Bernheim ’02 said.
Meyers, who took Rogers’ Milton lecture class, said he is an excellent teacher who is sensitive to students, receptive to comments and questions and, most importantly, enthusistic.
“This enthusiasm spills over to whatever he’s doing,” Meyers said, “so it’s really exciting to go to class and listen to him speak.”
Noelle Ortega ’01, another committee member, said the group asked for student input in making its recommendations.
“We didn’t hear one negative comment [about Rogers],” Ortega said. “He has lots of energy and just seems like a very likable person. People love him.”
People also love Lily, his blonde-haired daughter who showed off a huge grin after recieving a Yale teddy bear from Stout at the announcement Friday.
Rogers’ wife Cornelia, who met her husband while arranging a tutorial on Shakespeare their senior year, has also been warmly received by the Berkeley community. A professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., Pearsall will become Berkeley’s associate master.
Despite the couple’s fondness of Berkeley, neither was a Berkeleyite. Rogers was a member of Saybrook, and Pearsall resided in Jonathan Edwards.