Hockfield, Salovey transition quickly

Nearly one year after Yale made several major changes to its administrative lineup, recently-promoted Provost Susan Hockfield and Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey GRD ’86 have settled into their new leadership roles quickly and smoothly, top administrators said.

Hockfield assumed the role of Yale’s chief academic and financial officer Dec. 13, 2002, when former Provost Alison Richard left the University after a nine-year tenure to become vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Salovey left his post as Psychology Department chairman on Jan. 7 to replace Hockfield as Graduate School dean.

Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said both officials’ transitions have been “very, very smooth.”

“[Hockfield] learned what she needed to learn very quickly and had already learned a lot in her time as dean. As for [Salovey], he just seemed to intuit the job from the first day,” Brodhead said. “People went into their new jobs, and things kept going in an effortless way.”

But rocky economic conditions and labor controversies presented the administrators with major challenges during their first year.

Weathering the storm

In an Oct. 28 letter to the Yale community, Hockfield projected a $30 million deficit for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. The deficit will force the University to reduce overall costs, a task requiring the elimination of some jobs after employees retire.

“I’m very pleased by how the community has accepted the kinds of adjustments we need to make,” Hockfield said. “There’s a real sense of optimism in the face of these challenges.”

Salovey said in light of the current budget deficit, he is running a “lean and mean operation.” He plans to cut costs by decreasing printing, telecommunications and catering expenses at the Graduate School.

Deputy Provost Charles Long praised Hockfield for being mindful of the University’s priorities during the budgeting process, pointing to her decisions to avoid cutting faculty and staff salaries and financial aid.

“She’s not taking the easy things out of the budget for short-term gains that would have long-term bad results,” Long said.

Showing similar fiscal awareness, Salovey said he and Hockfield, who served as Graduate School dean from 1998 to 2002, will continue to aggressively fund Graduate School initiatives.

Pressured by Harvard University’s early-January announcement to increase its graduate aid by $14 million, Salovey announced a major increase in graduate student financial aid on Jan. 28, just weeks after his appointment. Salovey’s plan raises student stipends by $1,000 to $16,000 and alters students’ health coverage.

Salovey said he is committed to being “aggressive in our financial support of graduate students even in leaner times.”

“The job is challenging, interesting and surprising,” Salovey said. “We want graduate students to be able to concentrate primarily on their studies, and that requires us to look for funds under every rock.”

A turbulent time

The administrative changes came in the midst of major labor strife at the University. Locals 34 and 35, Yale’s largest unions representing 4,000 clerical, technical, service and support workers, and the Graduate Employees and Students Organization were busy preparing the first of two University-wide strikes.

Hockfield and Salovey held true to the University’s negotiating position, though Brodhead said he does not think their labor stances were the deciding factors in their appointments.

GESO chairwoman Anita Seth GRD ’05 said she thinks the two administrators’ strong support of the University’s position against graduate student unionization influenced Levin’s decision to promote them.

“Yale University is known as the university with the worst labor relations in the country, so you would expect that they’re appointing people who do not support unionization in key positions,” Seth said.

But Yale President Richard Levin said he is pleased that Hockfield is “showing leadership” and Salovey is “doing splendidly.”

“They both got off to a good start in their jobs,” Levin said.

Levin will soon fill another gap in his cabinet. He said he is planning to announce a replacement for former Vice President for Finance and Administration Robert Culver, who left the position last summer after a two-year tenure.

Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey GRD '86 is comfortable in his role as head of the Graduate School. He has served for about one year.
Philip Rucker
Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey GRD '86 is comfortable in his role as head of the Graduate School. He has served for about one year.

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