Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’71 was named the ninth president of Duke University this morning.
After 11 years as dean and nearly 40 years at Yale — Brodhead came to the University as an undergraduate and never left — Brodhead will succeed current Duke President Nan Keohane on July 1, 2004. The Duke Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment in a meeting Sunday.
“I was at Yale for 40 years, and 40 wonderful years they were. But a person can leave Yale and survive and I expect to thrive,” Brodhead said in an interview today after a press conference in Durham, N.C. “[Duke is] a place with unusually vigorous inter-school and interdisciplinary exchanges, and I also found it a very friendly place.”
Yale President Richard Levin said in an e-mail to the Yale community that he has mixed emotions about Brodhead’s departure.
“Dick Brodhead is one of the finest educators of his generation and one of the greatest deans in Yale’s 300-year history,” Levin said. “It is difficult to imagine Yale without him. Duke’s students, faculty, and alumni will find him an inspiration.”
Members of a search committee for a new college dean will be announced in January, Levin said.
Administrators and professors said they expect Brodhead’s replacement will likely come from within the Yale faculty.
“Anyone [Levin] appoints will certainly have had major institutional experience here,” Associate Yale College Dean Penelope Laurans said. “I would think that it would need to be somebody who is here [at Yale] and who has been here. That’s the tradition of leadership at Yale. I think any and all faculty members will be looked at.”
Brodhead’s chief role at Yale the last two years has been to chair the 41-member student and faculty Committee on Yale College Education, which last spring released the University’s first comprehensive undergraduate curricular review in more than 30 years.
Brodhead said he will spend his last six months as dean tending to the committee’s proposals.
“I intend to perform my current job next term, but I will begin coming down here [to Duke] a day or two each week,” Brodhead said. “I’m not president here until July and I still would like to play a role in keeping the [Yale] review committee recommendations on their way to enactment.”
Yale Provost Susan Hockfield said even though Brodhead — who she said played a “crucial role” in the review — is leaving, the review’s proposals will continue to be implemented.
“The map is there for us to follow,” Hockfield said. “Dean Brodhead’s extraordinary service over the very many years and in his many roles defies description.”
Brodhead’s departure comes amid other major administrative changes at Yale. Within the past year, a new provost, graduate school dean and vice president of finance and administration have all assumed posts at the University.
Former Yale Provost Alison Richard, who left Yale last year to become vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said Brodhead’s new appointment is an honor for him but a significant loss for Yale.
“If Dick [Brodhead] is to leave Yale, then my only regret is that he’s not headed here [to Cambridge], because he is one of the most exceptional people I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work with,” Richard said in a statement. “Duke’s good fortune is immense, and I am certain that Dick and Duke will flourish together.”
Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68, who is personal friends with Brodhead, said he is “broken-hearted.”
“Not only do I think that Dean Brodhead is one of the great influences in higher education today, but he and I were classmates at Yale,” Betts said.
Betts said he dismissed the possibility that Brodhead would return to Yale to succeed Levin, calling it “wishful thinking.”
“[Brodhead] doesn’t do things lightly,” Betts said. “If he’s taking on the presidency of Duke, you can be assured that he’ll put his heart and soul into it.”
Yale historian and history professor emeritus Gaddis Smith, a former Yale Corporation member, said it is “extraordinary” that other major universities such as Duke are tapping Yale administrators for their top posts.
“You have had in recent years four high Yale officers who became presidents of very major universities,” Smith said. “No other university has been a resource for recruitment for other major presidencies the way Yale has.”
After serving on the Yale faculty for 22 years, former Yale Provost Judith Rodin was appointed president of the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Another former provost, Hannah Gray, left Yale in the 1970s to assume the presidency at the University of Chicago.
“In the 19th century, Yale was considered the mother of college presidents,” said Smith, who is writing a book that chronicles the University’s role in the 20th century. “That kind of faded in the 20th Century until relatively recently.”
Duke Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Nicholas said in a statement that Brodhead is “the ideal person” to lead Duke because of his commitment to teaching, his administrative and fundraising skills and his eloquence.
“Duke’s trustees are confident that the qualities that have led Dick Brodhead to be so revered in New Haven will also serve him well as our next president,” Nicholas said.
Laurans said Brodhead’s appointment is a coup for Duke. She asked about Brodhead, “after the Bulldogs, can he really root for the Blue Devils?”
“They’re a very lucky school because Dick is a complete package: distinguished scholar, superb teacher, inspirational leader, beloved figure,” Laurans said. “He will go down as one of the great deans of Yale College.”
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