It was not an April Fool’s Day joke.
In an e-mail to the students of her college Tuesday, Branford College Dean Nicole Parisier announced that she will not return to Yale next year. Parisier, who has served as dean for seven years, will be moving to New York in July with her fiance. Parisier said she planned to work on a novel and other writing projects in New York but promised to keep in touch.
Branford College Master Steven Smith said Parisier had told him earlier she was planning to leave but that she wanted to keep the decision private for a while. While Parisier is set to leave at the term’s end, Smith said she would always have a home in Branford.
“I’m very glad for her but I’ll still miss her,” Smith said. “There’s no one at Yale I’ve worked more closely with over the last seven years than Dean Nicole.”
Parisier said while she did not know what to expect when she first accepted her position, “dean” now feels like her first name.
“Being your dean has toned and honed not only my heart, but also my will to believe,” Parisier said in the e-mail. “Living with you, your stories, and thinking about your thoughts has made every day of the past seven years full of meaning and fulfillment. I wish each of you the kind of experience you have given me.”
She praised the students for making Branford better through their energy, good intentions and passion.
“Together we’ve made a great thing happen here,” Parisier said. “We’ve built a real community.”
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead praised Parisier’s work with Branford College.
“Dean Parisier has been a wonderful dean,” Brodhead said. “She’s a person of great warmth and enthusiasm.”
Branford students said while they were happy for the dean, they were also surprised. They said they felt her departure would be a significant loss for the college.
Branford College Council President NaHyun Cho ’03 said she knew the dean had a serious relationship with her boyfriend but had no idea that she was planning to get married until she received Parisier’s e-mail.
“That’s great,” Cho said. “She was a great dean and everyone will probably miss her.”
Chanel Stark ’03 said Parisier was “a very accepting and warm person.” She remembered that Parisier always used to bake cookies during reading week and said she heard during her freshman year that Parisier had once crowd-surfed at the Yale-Harvard game.
Smith said he had not spoken to the Yale College Dean’s Office yet but would probably advertise a petition soon to seek a replacement dean.
Parisier is not the only dean to resign this year. Saybrook College Dean Paul McKinley announced in February that he was stepping down at the end of this year. As a result of the search to fill that position, Brodhead said there was already a pool of candidates available for Branford.
“We will immediately begin a new search,” Brodhead said.
In addition to her role as dean, Parisier is currently heading a review committee on Yale’s ethnic counselor system. Brodhead said while he was hopeful the committee would have results before the end of the term, someone else would replace Parisier if the committee did not finish its project by then.