The internal search for a new undergraduate dean officially began this weekend with Friday’s first meeting between Yale President Richard Levin and his 11-member faculty search committee.
Many administrators and professors came to agreement on six Yale professors they think may comprise the Levin committee’s short list of candidates to replace departing Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who will assume the Duke University presidency in July. While Levin set March’s spring recess as the deadline to appoint a new dean, some professors said they think Levin will make a decision sooner.
“I discussed with the committee what the qualifications I think the dean needed to have,” Levin said regarding Friday’s 4 p.m. meeting. “I spoke about the process they would need to engage in and what kind of criteria they should think about.”
Administrators and professors said possible candidates could include Astronomy Department Chairman Charles Bailyn, Political Science Chairman Ian Shapiro, Whitney Humanities Center Director Maria Rosa Menocal, Berkeley College Master and English professor John Rogers, History Department Chairman Jon Butler and former English Department Chairwoman Linda Peterson. Levin said Friday he will likely only consider internal candidates.
“I’ve heard all of those names and that’s kind of encouraging to me because it suggests that we have five or six well thought-of colleagues,” history professor Paul Kennedy said Monday.
Kennedy said he thinks all six of the candidates mentioned above are “capable of deanship.” He said he thinks department chairpeople such as Bailyn, Shapiro, Butler and Peterson are particularly strong candidates.
“When you become chairman of a big department, you get to know and see the machinery of the University grinding through in a way that a regular faculty member doesn’t see,” Kennedy said. “The chairmen just have to learn how the ship steers, and you want a dean of Yale College who knows how the ship steers.”
Kennedy said if Butler “wants it,” he thinks Butler “would be a strong candidate.” But Kennedy said a “sleeper candidate” may emerge.
Comparative literature professor Michael Holquist agrees with Kennedy that all six are strong candidates.
The search committee, chaired by theater studies and English professor Joseph Roach, includes two residential college masters, one department chair, three directors of undergraduate studies, and senior professors representing each of Yale College’s four academic distributional groups.
Administrators and professors also said it is important for Levin to balance his administration by appointing as dean a professor with experience in the humanities or related disciplines. As professors, Levin, Yale Provost Susan Hockfield and Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey taught economics, neurobiology and psychology, respectively. Brodhead is an English scholar.
“I think if the committee were convinced that somebody like Bailyn were the guy, they wouldn’t consider [balance],” Holquist said. “I like Charles Bailyn a lot, but nevertheless would prefer to see a humanist.”
Holquist said he thinks Butler and Menocal are strong candidates because of their academic focus — Butler is an American religion historian and Menocal is a humanities scholar — and their “broad reach” between departments.
“[Butler] is a very good administrator — he’s somebody who has a very broad reach,” Holquist said. “[And] I think [Menocal] is a real package. You get a scholar — who has done immense amounts for undergraduate education. She also represents an international slant at a time when Yale is trying to be global.”
Salovey said he thinks “ideally there would be broad representation” from all the distributional groups in the central administration.
More than half of the search committee members served on the Committee on Yale College Education, which completed a comprehensive undergraduate curricular review under Brodhead’s leadership last April.